Rio De Janeiro, Brazil -- Federal police carried out a series of raids seizing documents and computers linked to Rev. Sun Myung Moon's organization in Brazil, officials said.
The raids, which occurred simultaneously at several sites in Sao Paulo and far western Mato Grosso do Sul states Monday, were part of a broad investigation into allegations of tax evasion and immigration violations by Moon's organization, federal police said in a statement.
"Although formally established in this country as a philanthropic entity, the Association of Families for Unification and World Peace has developed a diverse program, generating worries and a high level of doubt in relation to their true objectives," the statement read.
The Association's lawyer Neudir Simao Ferabolli, whose house was among those raided, called the police action "a total abuse of authority."
"We are not a criminal organization and they was no reason to mount this total farce," Ferabolli told the Associated Press by telephone from Jardim, some 1,500 kilometers (900 miles) southwest of Rio de Janeiro.
Also raided were the Association's Sao Paulo headquarters and the residence and offices of Moon's No. 1 man in Brazil Rev. Kim Yoon-sang.
The federal police began investigating Moon's organization after a former employee alleged the association was involved in money laundering. A federal judge authorized the seizure of the association's banking records and financial information earlier this year.
According to Brazil's Federal Police, Moon, the 81-year-old founder and leader of the Unification Church, has accumulated at least 43,000 hectares (106,000 acres) of land in Mato Grosso do Sul state over the past seven years.
Moon has also been acquiring large tracts of land across the border in Paraguay, including a 350,000-hectare (865,000 acre) area that includes an entire town.
The Brazilian ( news - web sites ) Intelligence Agency, which fears Moon's operations threaten national sovereignty, also is investigating its activities.
Moon's Unification Church cites the Bible but gives it a radically different interpretation from that taught by mainstream Judaism or Christianity.
Moon's followers regard him as the new messiah who is providing the "physical salvation" that Jesus was unable to accomplish because he was executed and didn't marry.
Moon discovered the Brazilian region during a 1994 fishing trip. Soon after he began buying territory around Jardim, a ranching town of about 20,000 people near the Paraguayan border.