'Factop Case': preventive detention for Daniel and Ariel Sauer and night house arrest for Rodrigo Topelberg

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It has been three intense days at the Santiago Justice Center. Chilean public opinion has followed the extensive days in which the formalization hearing of the Factop case, the factoring company of the brothers Daniel and Ariel Sauer and Rodrigo Topelberg, took place. It is a case that has caused commotion due to the ramifications it has opened towards other criminal acts. After the hearing, the two Sauer brothers have been remanded in preventive detention in the Captain Yáber annex, where they had already been detained since the beginning of the week. Rodrigo Topelberg, meanwhile, was placed under nighttime house arrest and prohibited from leaving the country, while Luis Flores, former general manager of the STF stock brokerage, also owned by the businessmen, was placed under total house arrest and arraignment. In this way, the judge rejected the request of the Prosecutor's Office that requested preventive detention for the four defendants. On Monday, the Investigative Police arrested six involved in the case: the four people formalized this afternoon, in addition to Alberto Sauer Rosenwasser and the lawyer Darío Cuadra. Both were formalized the same day in the afternoon and were placed under house arrest. “Rich to stay at home,” were the ironic words of Alberto Sauer as he left the court. The patriarch is described by the Prosecutor's Office as one of the main attractors of clients for the companies that his children managed. In his statement, the deputy prosecutor of the Las Condes Prosecutor's Office, Juan Pablo Araya, accused the Sauer brothers and Topelberg of “ “create a scheme around the issuance of false invoices that allowed us to obtain considerable income.” According to the criminal complaint filed at the end of November 2023 by the Internal Revenue Service (SII) of Chile against the brothers Ariel and Daniel Sauer, their father, Alberto, and the lawyer Cuadra would have issued a total of 9,970 false tax invoices between January 2021 and July 2023 to those of 100 different companies, which would reach sums exceeding 13,000 million pesos (about 13.7 million dollars). As evidence, prosecutor Araya presented nine facts constituting a crime. Among them, repeated fraud, malicious use of a false private commercial instrument, tax crimes, delivery of false information to the market, misappropriation, illegal exercise of banking activity and money laundering. This last crime, detailed by the Public Ministry, is based on a 40-page report dated February 2 of this year delivered by the Financial Analysis Unit (UAF), the body in Chile in charge of preventing money laundering through banking institutions, in which suspicious transactions carried out by the accused are reported. The judge determined a period of 180 days for the investigation and, according to both the Prosecutor's Office and the plaintiff lawyers, the accused risk a sentence that could reach up to 15 years in prison.

A scandal that branched

The first irregularities in the Sauer and Topelberg companies came to light in March 2023 when the Commission for the Financial Market (CMF), the body that in Chile supervises the activity of banks, insurance companies, securities issuers and brokerages stock market, reported the provisional suspension of the operations of STF, the brokerage firm created by the businessmen in 2015, for not delivering its income statements on time. After investigating, the regulator decided to permanently cancel the brokerage on August 8 and fine its partners. In parallel, complaints from Factop clients began to appear against the Sauers – many of them relatives and friends from the Jewish colony – for non-payment of invested funds. Pandora's box opened when Topelberg decided to break up with his partners and friends. of their entire life and file a complaint against them. In the legal action, he accuses the Sauers of creating a mechanism for issuing ideologically false invoices to obtain money from the stock market and of operating as informal lenders to favor certain business groups. Among them, he mentions the Jalaff family, at that time the main shareholders of the Patio real estate company, who sold their property a few weeks ago. But when the case definitely exploded was on November 14, when an audio was leaked in which the influential and renowned lawyer, Luis Hermosilla, who represented the Sauer family, acknowledges an alleged payment of bribes to officials of the Internal Revenue Service (SII) and the Financial Market Commission (CMF), the body that supervises the Chilean investment market. values. Both sides are today investigated by the Eastern Metropolitan Prosecutor's Office. As part of that investigation and after investigating Luis Hermosilla's WhatsApp messages, prosecutors found evidence that compromised the director of the Investigative Police, PDI, Sergio Muñoz. He would have leaked secret judicial information to the lawyer referring to various cases. After the scandal exploded, Muñoz resigned from his position and, after the investigation was formalized, he is in preventive detention. The content of the Factop case file was, until this week, unknown to the public and those accused of This is a confidential investigation. Only this Monday, the Public Ministry released the details of the 15,000 pages that the document includes. There it is reported, for example, that when on February 22, the Factop offices on Alonso de Córdova Street, one of In the most exclusive avenues of Santiago, jewelry valued at around 17.4 million pesos (a little more than 18,000 dollars) was found, including a 21.6-carat gold coin minted in 1925, as well as diamonds and other gems. At the time of the seizure, prosecutor Araya revealed, there were no computers in the office, which were later found in the raid on Luis Flores' house carried out this Monday. Likewise, he details how a computer would have been found at Daniel Sauer's home. engraved engraving from Guayasamín. It is the name of one of the businessman's main companies, with which, according to the Prosecutor's Office, he would have started his false invoice machine. Subscribe here to the EL PAÍS Chile newsletter and receive all the key information on the current situation of the country.