Americanas' accounting inconsistencies concerning, says Brazil minister


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BRASILIA, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Accounting inconsistencies at Americanas SA AMER3.SA are reason for concern, Brazilian Labor Minister Luiz Marinho said on Tuesday, though he stopped short of accusing the Brazilian retailer of fraud.

"I cannot say that there was fraud, but that it smells (like), it smells," he said at a news conference.

Marinho said Americanas' problem raised concern in the financial market, but not over its 44,000 workers, who are also "victims."

Asked about what the government could do to avoid mass layoffs, Marinho said he would organize a round table between the company and workers' representatives and "seek to understand what happened."

"If there was a fraud, (we're going to) call the bodies that can call the person responsible for the fraud," he said.

Marinho questioned the company's compliance systems and the firm that supervised its numbers, without mentioning any name.

Americanas, backed by the billionaire trio that founded investment firm 3G Capital, entered bankruptcy protection this month after disclosing problems in its accounting worth 20 billion reais ($3.9 billion).

A Brazilian consumer association filed a formal complaint on Monday against accounting firm PwC Brasil and Brazil's securities regulator CVM, accusing both of negligence.

(Reporting by Marcela Ayres; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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