P.M. BRIEFING : Brazil Speculator Accused in Crisis

From Times wire services

Speculator Naji Nahas, who sparked a crisis in Brazil's stock exchanges when he stopped payment on checks to brokers, has been charged with fraud and crimes against the economy, police said today.

It was the first time Nahas was charged in connection with the scandal which forced Brazilian authorities to close the nation's stock and options markets June 12. If found guilty Nahas could get a jail term of two to 10 years for commiting a crime against the economy by manipulating exchange markets, and up to five years for letting $29 million in checks bounce.

Nahas, Brazil's biggest speculator, caused brokerage houses up to $500 million in losses when he stopped payment on his checks, market sources say. Five brokerage houses were closed by the Central Bank due to losses incurred in the crisis.

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