Founder of Brazilian art park convicted of money laundering

November 18, 2017 GMT

SAO PAULO (AP) — A court has convicted the Brazilian mining tycoon who founded a massive outdoor art park of money laundering and sentenced him to more than nine years in prison.

Prosecutors alleged that in 2007 and 2008, $98.5 million in donations and loans meant for the Inhotim art park were rerouted to pay expenses at mining and steel companies owned by Bernardo Paz. In 2010, Paz sold his Itaminas conglomerate, which included 29 companies.

Since its founding it more than 10 years ago, the Inhotim park in Minas Gerais state has become one of the most important art centers in Latin America. Sprawled over 400 wooded acres, the park displays the work of many internationally known artists like Chris Burden, Adriana Varejao and Cildo Meireles.

A judge issued the conviction earlier this year but prosecutors only publicized it in a statement released Thursday. After the conviction became public, the park said in a statement that it had no connection to Paz’s companies. Paz’s sister, Virginia de Mello Paz, was also convicted.

Marcelo Leonardo, a lawyer for Paz, told the Brazilian press that he has already filed an appeal. Leonardo said Paz and his sister were innocent, saying all the cited financial transactions were legal and normal.