also faces government-led investigations into allegations of illegal money transfers.
No charges have been lodged.
A Brazilian businessman who unsuccessfully attempted to acquire the airline in early 2001 is suing Celso Cipriani
over the collapsed sale.The government agency that regulates air traffic in Brazil, Infraero
, is seeking back rent for airport terminal gates the airline once occupied.The airline owes more than 1 billion Brazilian real, or about $350 million.Celso Cipriani, 58, who serves on Transbrasil's board and was its president from 2000 to 2002, is lobbying the Brazilian government for credits he says the government owes but will not provide.
The newspapers in So Paolo have written more than a dozen articles accusing him of secreting millions out of Transbrasil
and into foreign bank accounts.
Marise and Celso Cipriani
arrived in Grand County in 1995.
A newspaper says Celso Cipriani
illegally sent millions out of Brazil, and a federal attorney is probing bankruptcy-fraud allegations.
In Brazil, some news reports say Celso Cipriani
plundered from the airline.One paper, citing a police document released in 2003, accused him of illegally sending $35 million out of the country using a New York firm, Beacon Hill Service Co.
In a statement he
provided in June to a congressional panel investigating the alleged money-laundering schemes in Brazil, Cipriani
had never heard of Beacon Hill
read of his
company's alleged connection with it in a May 2002 newspaper article.
The Brazilian federal attorney also is investigating charges of bankruptcy fraud against Celso Cipriani
, said Brazilian Sen.
"The Brazilian Congress
Investigation Committee subpoenaed Mr. Cipriani
to testify on money transfers he
ordered to financial institutions outside Brazil," de Barros said, noting that Cipriani's formal testimony is pending.
workforce from 4,000 to fewer than 1,800 between 2001 and 2002.Some of those dismissed employees are behind the newspaper reports, he
The most recent reports in the papers have connected Celso Cipriani
with a countrywide investigation involving Brazilian bank Banestado and an alleged money-laundering scheme that has ferried a reported $30 billion out of Brazil and into foreign banks.
The investigation is headed by a special congressional panel exploring the country's largest banks and special accounts known as CC-5 accounts, which are legal but can make it easier to ship money out of the country.
Last month, newspapers in So Paolo reported a leaked list of bank transactions connected to the investigation.Celso Cipriani's
name was on the list.
The Ciprianis shake their heads when asked about it.Yes, they used the bank in 2001 to change some of her
family's stocks and investments into dollars.But it was a little more than $2 million, they said.Some of that went to Granby Ranch to kick-start some development projects, and some of the stocks were posted as collateral to help pay Transbrasil employees.
"They have accused me of taking money from Transbrasil
, but in fact it is the exact opposite," Celso Cipriani
has sued 14 people connected to one newspaper story and won judgments against two sources involved.
Meanwhile, a Brazilian oil magnate, German Efromovich, plans to buy Transbrasil
for an undisclosed sum.He
intends to use the company's remaining three planes as cargo carriers.Last week, Efromovich launched an independent audit of the airline.The Ciprianis said the results of that audit, expected in the next month, will quash allegations that Celso Cipriani
plundered the airline's coffers.
Two years ago, the Ciprianis tried to sell the company to a buyer for just one Brazilian real and have the buyer assume the airline's growing debt.That sale crumbled.
This time, Efromovich, who also is reportedly in the process of acquiring a bankrupt airline in Colombia, has studied the company's finances and would not buy a company with millions of dollars missing, Celso Cipriani