Brazil Regulator Charges Former Executives Rial, Duarte Neto in Americanas Case

The CVM accused the company’s ex-chief executive officer Sergio Rial over “inconsistencies” in the disclosure of a 20 billion reais ($4 billion) accounting hole to the market

A customer shops at an Americanas store in Brasilia.
By Mariana Durao and Cristiane Lucchesi
June 06, 2023 | 11:25 AM

Bloomberg — Brazil’s securities regulator filed the first charges involving the accounting scandal and bankruptcy at retail giant Americanas SA. (AMER3)

The CVM, as the regulator is known, accused the company’s ex-chief executive officer Sergio Rial over “inconsistencies” in the disclosure of a 20 billion reais ($4 billion) accounting hole to the market.

Rial and Joao Guerra Duarte Neto, who replaced Rial on an interim basis, are accused of having violated the Brazilian corporation law, which imposes the need for secrecy on any information that has not yet been disclosed for market knowledge and may significantly influence investors’ decisions to sell or buy securities issued by a company.

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They’re also charged for having violated a CVM resolution on the disclosure of a material fact, according to public information on the regulator’s website.

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If convicted, both can be punished with fines or even disqualification from holding company management positions for up to 20 years. The probe was first reported by O Globo newspaper.

Sergio Rial, former chief executive officer of Americanas SA, during a hearing at the National Congress building in Brasilia, Brazil, on Tuesday, March 28, 2023. The first clear view at the impact of bankruptcy on distressed Brazilian retailer Americanas can be seen in a court-appointed administrator report released to courts last week.dfd

Americanas filed for bankruptcy protection in a Brazilian court in January citing liabilities of approximately 43 billion reais ($8.26 billion) right after Rial blew the whistle on the hole. The retail chain counts among its biggest shareholders some of the country’s wealthiest business executives: Jorge Paulo Lemann, Marcel Telles and Carlos Sicupira.

Americanas said in a emailed statement that it is continuing to cooperate with authorities and the independent committee to determine what led to the “accounting inconsistencies.”

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The company “since the first moment, made it a priority to immediately inform the market, with the greatest possible transparency, of all developments in a particularly complex and perplexing process. Americanas expects CVM to recognize this in its judgment.”

Rial declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg. Duarte Neto didn’t reply to messages seeking comment.

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--With assistance from Daniel Cancel.

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