An exclusive report by Agência Pública reveals the hidden story behind one of Brazil’s most prominent businessmen, the founder of one of the top retailers in the country, Casas Bahia. The late business magnate Samuel Klein, who died in 2014, allegedly ran a scheme to lure children and adolescents into sexual exploitation for decades – using his name and influence to shield himself and keep it all hidden from the public.
Agência Pública had access to lawsuits, police investigations, documents, photos, videos, recordings and handwritten declarations of the complainants, that indicate that, at least between early 1989 and 2010, Samuel Klein allegedly maintained a routine of sexual exploitation of girls between the ages of 9 and 17 at Casas Bahia’s own headquarters in São Caetano do Sul, in the metropolitan region of São Paulo, and at properties he owned on the southeastern coast of Brazil.
Reporters from Agência Pública gathered information from more than 35 sources, including women who accuse Klein of sex crimes, lawyers, and former employees of Casas Bahia and of the Klein family. The interviews conducted suggest that Klein took advantage of the vulnerable situation of impoverished families and posed as a “benefactor,” creating a logic that, by mixing abuse and financial rewards, trapped victims in the criminal scheme.
Agência Pública’s executive director and co-founder, Natalia Viana, details the findings of this investigation and its repercussions in an interview in English on the podcast Explaining Brazil, episode #149: The Brazilian Epstein?, produced by The Brazilian Report. You can listen to the episode here.
Main image: Agência Pública