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The Inhotim Institute in Brumadinho, in Minas Gerais, a state in southeast Brazil.
The Inhotim Institute in Brumadinho, in Minas Gerais, a state in southeast Brazil.

Brazilian Court Clears Inhotim Institute Founder of Money Laundering Charges

Bernardo Paz, the founder of Inhotim Institute, an outdoor contemporary art museum near the city of Belo Horizonte in central Brazil, was acquitted of money laundering charges by Brazil’s Federal Regional Court of the First Region on Tuesday, Folha de S.Paulo reports.

A leading member of the country’s art scene, Paz was accused of funneling money he had raised for Inhotim into Itaminas, a conglomerate of twenty-nine mining and steel companies he ran. A complaint filed by Brazil’s Federal Public Ministry in 2013 claimed that he set up an overseas account for the art park that received more than $95 million in an attempt to hide his transfers of funds to his various businesses between 2007 and 2008.

Paz was convicted of money laundering and sentenced to nine years and three months in prison in September 2017. Virgínia de Mello Paz—Bernardo Paz’s sister, who was implicated in the scheme and sentenced to five years in prison—was also cleared of the charges.

“I’m glad the truth came out and for being officially exonerated,” Paz said in a statement. “Now I hope to be able to focus my attention exclusively on my companies and on art, which is what really matters to me.”

Inhotim, which Paz began building in the 1980s, opened to the public in 2006. Known for its 1,300-work collection, which includes pieces by Claudia Andujar, Doug Aitken, Carroll Dunham, Carlos Garaicoa, Cristina Iglesias, Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Pape, Tunga, and Adriana Varejão, the outdoor museum and botanical garden is spread over more than five thousand acres and boasts twenty-three pavilions, which house temporary exhibitions.