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Brazil Evangelical leader charged with fraud

Tuesday, September 13, 2011    

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) -- Federal prosecutors are charging the founder of one of Brazil's biggest evangelical churches and three other church leaders with alleged crimes including fraud, money laundering, racketeering and embezzlement.

Those named in the investigation are the founder of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, Bishop Edir Macedo, former congressman Joao Batista Silva, Bishop Paulo Roberto Conceicao, and the organisation's financial director, Alba da Costa.

The prosecutors accuse them of sending about $236 million in church money illegally from Brazil to the United States between 1999 and 2005.

The prosecutors filed the charges yesterday.

The church's communications office told the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper that Macedo's lawyers hadn't yet reviewed the charges.

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