Preventing and Combating Money Laundering

Brazil is a member of the International Financial Action Task Force (FATF-GAFI), an intergovernmental organization with the purpose of developing a global strategy to prevent and combat money laundering, corruption and terrorism financing. The country is also a signatory to several International Conventions, and within their scope it has committed to prevent and combat these criminal activities.

FATF and other international organizations dealing with this issue, such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Customs Organization (WCO), take into account the most widely used financial transactions on money laundering (ML):
- Financial systems, regular and alternative;
- International trade operations (import and export);
- Transactions involving service provision;
- Cross-border transport of currency and other bearer negotiable instruments.

For such agencies, tax and customs offenses, money laundering and other financial crimes threaten the strategic, political and economic interests of various nations, and may deprive the State of financial resources needed for its sustainable development, shaking the confidence of the citizens in the ability of their leaders to promote tax justice.

They further assess that such criminal activities have various and peculiar characteristics being constantly improved and exploited in new ill-gotten gains opportunities, often placing those activities one step ahead of legislative measures to fight them. So they consider it essential to find more effective ways of repression, especially in times of economic crisis, when revenue losses harm the State, companies and private individuals.

In this context, OECD, FATF and WCO, among other organizations and experts on the subject, consider that the tax and customs authorities have an essential role in identifying the most common financial transactions on money laundering, mainly on the wide range assignments and operational instruments they have in their fields of activity.

This view imposes a special responsibility on the Federal Revenue of Brazil (RFB), one of the Brazilian oversight and control bodies of the national LCPD system, especially regarding creation of preventive mechanisms, risk management and statistical data and improvement of the evidence communication tools on the offenses in question to other authorities of the system.


The role of the RFB is also highlighted by the provisions on the National Law on Money Laundering (Law 9613/98, amended by Law 12683/2012), which lists any criminal offense and, conceptually, includes tax and customs offenses among the previous actions that may cause, in theory, practice of money laundering crime.

The relevance attributed by the RFB to this complex phenomenon can be viewed on its Internal Regulation, which establishes repression of money laundering as one of its purposes (article 1, subsection XX). Thus, the Federal Revenue institutionalizes the use of its ample structure on administrative, operational, database and technological resources, which are primarily aimed at fighting tax and customs illegalities, also to fight against money laundering.

In the operational field, the relevance of the matter to the RFB is reflected in the development of investigations in technical cooperation with other bodies (institutional relations with the Federal Police - DPF, Federal Public Prosecution - MPF and Judiciary, for example), aiming to dismantle criminal organizations that, through money laundering, try to give legal appearance to resources from various illicit activities.

Given the characteristics and scale of the problem, nowadays the RFB plays an important institutional role in the State's effort to identify and fight organizations that, in a structured way, practice money laundering crime, which characteristics, scope and breadth have deserved attention and initiatives from various nations.