In the meanders of Brazilian justice there is a rare category of processes that, forgotten in the past, suddenly resurrect in a surprising way. This is the case of the bankruptcy of a well-known construction company in Rio de Janeiro, which took place almost three decades ago, which promises to cause a loss of 600 million reais to one of the main financial institutions in the country. A unanimous decision by the 9th Civil Chamber of Rio, following the opinion of the Public Ministry, dismissed an appeal by Banco Bradesco against the decision, in the second instance, which favors the bankruptcy of a construction company liquidated in the late 1990s, Montreal Engenharia. According to the sentence, the bank improperly benefited from an agreement with the construction company and appropriated assets that should have been intended for the payment of labor debts and with the tax authorities.
Established in the 1950s, Montreal was a power in the military period, when it used to be contracted for major public works. With the rise of other giants in the field, such as Mendes Júnior, Camargo Corrêa and Odebrecht, it entered a long decline that culminated in the legal term of its bankruptcy in 1995, which characterized the state of bankruptcy before the current judicial reorganization law, in force since 2005. During its bankruptcy process, the company signed an agreement in 1998 with one of its main creditors, Bradesco. There was a debt valued, at the time, at 32 million reais, as a result of a loan for the purchase of equipment, such as cranes and tractors, and the contractor ceded the same assets to the bank in exchange for the debt settlement. This, however, could not have been done by changing the foundations of the bankrupt estate, bypassing other creditors and jeopardizing the continuity of the company’s operations.
Bradesco accepted the assets and transferred them to the Paraná infrastructure holding company Inepar, in exchange for the company’s shares, then valued at 20.4 million reais. Montreal’s other creditors, meanwhile, were left empty-handed. That was until 2018, when Rücker & Longo Advogados was tasked with combing the process and found the million-dollar contract dated twenty years earlier. The lawsuit was reopened with the allegation that Bradesco could not have signed the agreement with the company in the midst of the bankruptcy process, and asked for the return of 20.4 million reais from 1998, which amounts to 600 million reais in current values. .
In its defense, in an attempt to avoid paying the debt, Bradesco claimed that the transaction was carried out before the declaration of bankruptcy and claimed that such negotiation is now permitted by current legislation. Justice, however, does not think so. The case had judgments against the bank in both the first and second instances. Representatives of Sergio Bermudes Advogados, which represents Bradesco in the process, inform that the institution is now considering appealing to the Superior Court of Justice. Even if it manages to open a new resource, the bank will need to provision for the possible loss of more than half a billion reais in its next balance sheets.
Published in VEJA of October 12, 2022, issue no. 2810
Continues after advertising