What is embezzlement?

Embezzlement is a crime of misappropriation of a public asset or value by an employee who has access to them by virtue of their function. It is a specific crime of the public servant (or equivalent) and it is an abuse of public trust.

It is provided for in Article 312 of the Brazilian Penal Code and falls within the scope of crimes committed by public officials against the administration in general, which provides the following:

“The public official takes possession of money, valuables or any other movable property, public or private, that he has possession of by virtue of his position, or diverts it, for his own benefit or that of others.”

Anyone who commits this type of crime is subject to a prison sentence of 2 to 12 years and payment of a fine.

The crime of embezzlement can be subdivided into five categories provided for in the Penal Code:

  • embezzlement-appropriation;
  • embezzlement-deviation;
  • embezzlement-theft;
  • wrongful embezzlement;
  • embezzlement through fraud (embezzlement-swindle).

The word derives from the Latin term peculatus , which in Roman law was characterized as the diversion of property belonging to the State.

See also: misappropriation.

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