Brazil moves forward in the fight against money laundering

July 10, 2012 - The Brazilian government passed on Monday (09) the bill 12.683/2012 that strengthens punishment against money laundering crimes. The new legislation removes the list of previous offenses, allowing to configure the concealing or hiding of the origin of proceeds from any crime or misdemeanor, such as illegal lottery games and the exploitation of slot machines, as money laundering crimes.

The Secretary for Legislative Affairs of the Ministry of Justice, Marivaldo Pereira, highlights that organized crime organizations use money laundering as a mechanism to attribute legal appearance to their crime proceedings. "With this [crime organizations] are able to continue their activities. The new law increases the efficiency of the State to fight this kind of crime and it will be an important tool for combating organized crime," he says.

The new law also broadens the list of persons required to send information about suspicious transactions to the Council for Financial Activities Control Council for Financial Avtivities Control (COAF) and reaches, for example, money changers, people who negotiate rights of athletes or sell luxury goods, among other activities. The law also raises the limit of the fine to be imposed on those who disobey the obligations of transmission of information, from approximately USD$ 100,000 to USD$ 10 million.

Anticipated Disposal

The new 12.683/2012 law also foresees the anticipated sale of property seized during the investigation of money laundering crimes. Thus, before the final decision of Justice on the case, the judge may order the sale of the assets and the value shall be deposited into a judicial account. At the end of the process, if the defendant is acquitted, the adjusted amount shall be returned and, if convicted, the value shall be transferred to the government. The measure prevents the depreciation of assets and expenditures of the State with the maintenance of goods in deposits.

The approved project that originated the bill passed by the Brazilian President Dilma Roussef had the support of the National Strategy for Combating Corruption and Money Laundering (Enccla), a body that brings together more than 60 institutions, including UNODC, and is coordinated by the Department of Assets Recovery and International Legal Cooperation of the National Secretariat of Justice of the Brazilian Ministry of Justice.

In Brazil, UNODC and the Ministry of Justice are finalizing the negotiation of a new technical cooperation project which aims to strengthen the capacity of the Government to implement measures against money-laundering, mutual legal assistance and to support and cooperate in detecting, seizing and confiscating illicit proceeds, as required pursuant to the United Nations instruments and other globally accepted standards.

UNODC is responsible for implementing the Global Programme against Money Laundering, Asset Crime and Financing of Terrorism through the Rule of Law, Organized Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Unit, established in 1997 in response to the mandate given to UNODC through the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988. The mandate of the unit was expanded in 1998 by the Political Declaration and measures to combat money laundering, adopted by the General Assembly at its 20th special session, which broadened the scope of the mandate to cover all serious crimes, not just those related to drug trafficking.

With the Brazilian Ministry of Justice

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