Brazil's Federal Police (PF) have already arrested 73 doleiros (money-changers)
and businessmen charged with involvement in an international money-laundering
scheme. One hundred and five arrest warrants were served during the Beacon
Hill Operation, carried out simultaneously in eight Brazilian states.
Investigations into the
scheme began in 1997, based on suspected irregularities in the use of bank
accounts. Commissioner Paulo Roberto Falcão, in charge of the operation
in Rio de Janeiro, presented a tally covering the first phase of the effort,
which got underway on August 17.
According to him, 60 firms
connected with the Beacon Hill Service Corporation, which is responsible for
managing the foreign accounts of various Brazilian money-changers and is one
of the chief beneficiaries of the scheme, handled approximately US$ 20 billion
between 1997 and 2002.
Forty companies, formed
exclusively by Brazilians, are already being investigated by the police. The
police are now trying to identify the money-changers' clients who might have
been involved in corruption, tax evasion, and smuggling, among other crimes.
The PF wants to gather
sufficient documentary evidence to pass along to the Public Interest Defense
Ministry, which can request preventive detention for the individuals concerned.
According to the PF, the
doleiros received dirty money in Brazil and sent it abroad. After passing
through various accounts, including off-shore tax shelters, part of this money
returned to Brazil in the form of payments or investments.
War on Money-laundering
Earlier this month, the
Minister of Control and Transparency, Waldir Pires, said that the third meeting
of the Integrated Management Cabinet to Prevent and Combat Money-Laundering
served to develop proposals that will equip the democratic State to overcome
organized crime and money-laundering in the Brazil.
"This will help in
the construction of a decent society, with measures to preserve individual
and constitutional rights in order to arrive at a more just society,"
According to Pires, money-laundering,
illegal gains, and organized crime have grown considerably in the country,
and the activities to combat these crimes must be disciplined. "The actions
of the State have to be competent and efficient to reassure Brazilian society,"
The government's strategy
to prevent and combat money-laundering in the country was formulated at the
end of last year. The objective was to establish a new system for the repression
of this type of crime, with the participation of organs from the Executive,
the Public Interest Defense Ministry, and the Federal Accounting Court.
The Brazilian Ministry
of Justice's strategy to combat organized crime and money laundering involves
unifying the activities of the executive and judicial branches and the public
interest defenders' office.
The National secretary
of Justice, Cláudia Chagas, said that the "goal is to establish
a wide network so that the crime of money-laundering can be fought more effectively."
According to her, Brazil
has a good law to combat money-laundering, but the institutions to enforce
it are not very effective. "What we are putting together is an organization
of these institutions for the sake of greater agility and competence,"
The director-general of
the Federal Police, Paulo Lacerda, said that, despite the jurisdiction of
each government agency, the idea is to integrate actions to combat money-laundering,
to avoid a dispersion of efforts.
Daisy Nascimento works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press
agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at email@example.com.
from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.