The owner, Mr. Joseph Safra, among other businesses around the world, also owns the Bank J. Safra Sarasin, headquartered in Switzerland. All that we are going to present here are facts already proven, with official and public documents, before the Court of Justice of Brazil.
With the intention of informing in a clear way the "modus operandi" that Banco Safra S/A employed against our companies, with a spurious, dishonest and misleading attitude, with greed and pettiness, also governed and ruled solely by economic forces, alien to ethics, to good faith or to any other principle of domestic law, using any and all means to coerce and intimidate any person who does not engage in this unlawful way of doing business, accounting them as an enemy to the bank, as shown below.
We also emphasize here the response of the Central Bank of Brazil, when we filed a complaint about everything that happened between us and Banco Safra S/A.
In 2001, our family held 11 footwear stores and used Banco Safra S/A to leverage financial resources by contracting Visa credit card receivables from all our stores. Due to the volume of daily receivables, the methodology was to get the contracts with the bank manager, to settle the rates and amounts to be anticipated and, right after that, to collect the signatures of family members, owners and representatives of the companies.
These blank agreements were signed in trust with the manager of Banco Safra S/A. In 2006, due to financial problems, we decided to audit the companies’ accounts. A debt was found and verified the use of a much higher rate than that originally agreed with the bank, unilaterally changed by the financial institution
The Judicial Actions:
Therefore, in 2006, without any other options left, as the dialogue with the Safras had already been exhausted, we were forced to appeal to the Brazilian Judicial Power. We filed 11 cases in the Civil Court of the Administrative Region of Campinas in order to review the situation and prove the damage Banco Safra S/A was inflicting on us.
One of the decisions of the Judicial System in 2008 was that Banco Safra should present the duly filled out contracts. Ms. Denise Maria Artem Ataide, manager of our checking account, confirmed the illegality of the contracts, and mentioned the delivery of several cardboard boxes coming from Banco Safra S/A headquarters in São Paulo, including those of Gobbo companies and other companies, all blank and with much higher rates than those agreed upon. Fearing that all this illegal manipulation of the pre-agreed numbers would fall on her back, the former manager decided to reveal the whole story in a notarized document.
Public Notary Statement
In an excerpt from the document registered at the 4th Notary Office of the city of Campinas on Sep/25/ 2008, Ms. Denise Maria Artem Ataide states: "To the Grantor’s surprise, something called her attention, when, in mid-February 2008, a large volume of cardboard boxes arrived at the branch she worked at, bearing several client agreements, among which were those mentioned in section 3 (Grupo Gobbo) herein, among other clients, all of which blank, as aforesaid, and to each was attached a computer screenshot with the company’s name, amounts, rates and other data…, however, she was certain that the rates in the above-mentioned screenshots were twice the amount agreed upon with the client and written in pencil at the top of the same agreement by her, the Grantor…”
Former manager becomes enemy of the bank
The attorney of Banco Safra S/A, Ms. Claudia Maria Guh, in response to a report by the site Congresso em Foco (Congress in the Spotlight), referred to the manager as an "enemy" of the institution. Also accused the manager of colluding with the scheme. This demonstrates Banco Safra’s attitude as being unfair to its employees and clients.
The Judicial Power responses
- In one of the proceedings (no. 0046426-15.2006.8.26.0114), the judge of the 2nd Civil Court of Campinas understood that the contracts were filled out later and in "dishonesty", "it is inevitable to conclude that it was an act of dishonesty," and established proper restitution in double of the amount overpaid by our companies.
- The judge of the 3rd Civil Court of Campinas (proceeding no. 0046007-92.2006.8.26.0114) defined that "... the defendant (Banco Safra) after having agreed and settled a certain rate for each transaction, would change it to a greater amount on a unilateral basis... ", also sentenced the bank to reimbursement.
- The acknowledgment of unlawful practice was also determined by the Superior Court of Justice in the Review of Special Recourse no. 528.831-SP 2014/0129453-6.
Central Bank of Brazil
When we filed a complaint with the facts reported by the bank’s former manager, the Central Bank of Brazil considered it an "Accepted Complaint." However, according to the Central Bank's internal rules, the response to this complaint would not be revealed to our family. Refusing to accept the absence of response by the Central Bank, Congressmen Carlos Sampaio and Chico Lopes making use of their attributions in the Legislative Power questioned the Chairman of the Central Bank of Brazil as to the status of the complaint we had filed.
In one of the replies, Banco Safra S/A admitted that blank agreements involving our companies were filled out after being signed.
The Central Bank replied in one of the documents that it "... continuously monitors the fulfillment of the regulations by the financial institutions and adopts the regulation and inspection measures required for correcting any eventual irregular behavior adopted by the institutions...".
Procon – Consumer Protection Agency
Banco Safra S/A was also reported by Procon (Consumer Protection Agency) for entering into an agreement with the consumer without filling out the due data. However, this was an option with little effect.
"Thugs" hired by Banco Safra
The whole case should have been heard throughout Civil Courts, just like so many other standard cases that are filed daily in the world. But, moreover, Banco Safra S/A hired "Thugs" to stalk and scare Gobbo family members. The man, Jeferson Fiuza de Moraes, was arrested and confessed to being hired by Banco Safra to investigate, but he ended up stalking and terrorizing Gobbo family members. He was indicted for illegal possession of a weapon and according to the press he is being prosecuted for murder of two victims in another case.
The State Public Prosecutor's Office opened an investigation against Sebastião Jesus Garozzo, Banco Safra’s employee, and Elias Ricardo Alves, manager of the company named Unit Consultoria e Assessoria em Segurança Ltda., who sent Jeferson to Campinas armed with a knife, handcuffs, a club and a lot of ammunition.
Defamation Criminal Complaint
As if it were not enough to ruin our business, they caused our family name to be registered as delinquent payer, and sending "Thugs" to threaten our family members (bullies were arrested by police officers), they also issued two cases against our family, one in the Civil Court and another in the Criminal Court, an attempt to convict us for defamation, since we created a website dedicated to present all actions carried out by Banco Safra S/A, as well as all the decisions, statements and proceedings resulting from the lawsuits.
- The lawsuit made by the bank against the Gobbo family for the alleged crime of defamation was rejected by the Criminal Court of Campinas (JECRIM proceeding no. 3018513-60.2013.8.26.0114).
- It was also rejected by the 31st Civil Court of São Paulo (proceeding no. 1013717-34.2015.8.26.0100), a civil case for defamation, in which the judges decided that the blog www.safraude.com.br only published judicial sentences and press material to demonstrate outrage over the way the business was conducted by the bank and that society needed to know about it. They also denied Banco Safra case secrecy.
We consider that the behavior of Banco Safra S/A is not based on ethics, according to the judgment given by the judge of the 31st Civil Court of São Paulo "for the abusive practices and dishonesty in how contracts were handled, a fact backed by convincing evidence." And also, when the scheme was discovered, they employed bullying methods against the Gobbo family, such as trying to restrain freedom of expression by issuing a request to Google to remove the blog from the internet.