(Corrects to say Grupo BTG Pactual bought a stake in Banco Panamericano from original owner, not Caixa Econômica Federal’s investment arm)
SAO PAULO, April 19 (Reuters) - Brazil’s federal police said they had conducted raids on Wednesday as part of an investigation into the purchase of Banco Panamericano SA shares by Caixa Participações SA, parent company of national savings bank Caixa Econômica Federal.
The investigation is to determine whether Caixa Econômica Federal managers committed a fraud that might have caused bank clients to lose money, police said in a statement.
Caixa Econômica Federal said in a statement it is cooperating with the investigation, which is the latest scandal rocking Brazil’s political and business establishment.
The federal court that authorized the raids also froze 1.5 billion reais ($483 million) of assets belonging to the targets of the probe, the police said, adding that 200 officers were serving 46 search warrants in various states.
Banco Pan, as Banco Panamericano is now called, confirmed in a statement that its headquarters were raided in connection with the probe into the purchase of its shares by Caixa Participações in 2009.
Banco Pan said it was cooperating with the authorities and that the investigation did not involve its current managers and operations.
Preferred shares of Banco Pan fell as much as 7 percent in early trading to the lowest since early February before paring back losses to around 1 percent. An index tracking financial companies listed on the São Paulo Stock Exchange rose 0.3 percent.
Without naming any of the targets of the investigation, police said they identified civil servants, consulting firms and businessmen involved in the scheme.
The unnamed people were responsible for signing contracts and expert opinions that resulted in the acquisition of Banco Panamericano shares by Caixa Participações, the police statement said.
In 2011, Grupo BTG Pactual SA bought a stake in Banco Panamericano from original owner Grupo Silvio Santos, with privately held deposit guarantee fund FGC acting as a guarantor.
Police said 30 of the search warrants were carried out in São Paulo, six in Rio de Janeiro and six in the federal capital of Brasília. They also conducted raids in Belo Horizonte, Recife and Londrina.
BTG Pactual acquired a 37.6 percent stake in Banco Panamericano for 450 million reais, marking its debut in retail banking.
BTG Pactual did not have an immediate comment. ($1 = 3.1070 reais) (Reporting by Pedro Fonseca; Writing by Ana Mano; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Bernard Orr)