Brazilian police investigate TV network acquisition by sect leader

Xinhua, China/October 20, 2007

Brazil's Federal Police have reopened their investigation into the purchase of TV network Record by Bishop Edir Macedo, leader of the sect known as the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), local media reported on Friday.

The police questioned the origin of the money Macedo used in his 1989 acquisition of the TV network, which is headquartered in Sao Paulo. Earlier investigations showed that Macedo probably used money from UCKG tithes to build his personal empire, which includes Record, its affiliated broadcasters, a publisher and several other companies.

Record now legally belongs to Macedo and his wife.

The case was first opened in January 2004 when the bishop was charged with embezzling 3.2 million U.S. dollars from the church's tithes.

In 1997, Macedo collected the money by asking the UCKG followers to help him pay his debts to Brazil's Internal Revenues Service. The money was allegedly used to pay debts generated by his acquisition of Record instead.

The police will also investigate Macedo on other charges, such as identity theft.

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