By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Minister of Justice and Public Security, Sergio Moro, regretted, on Thursday, the decision of the Chamber of Deputies that returned the Council for Control of Financial Activities (COAF) to the Ministry of Economy.
“On the decision by the majority of the Chamber to withdraw the COAF from the Ministry of Justice, I regret what happened. It’s part of democracy to lose or win. How it is won or how it is lost also has relevance. I am grateful to the 210 lawmakers who supported the MJSP [Ministry of Justice] and the COAF-strengthening-plan,” Moro said Thursday through his Twitter account.
On Wednesday, the full Chamber of Deputies decided, by 228 votes to 210, to return jurisdiction over COAF to the Ministry headed by economist Paulo Guedes.
Created in 1998 under the Ministry of Finance, COAF is a financial investigative agency of the federal government. It works mainly in the prevention of and fight against money laundering, and for many it is one of the main instruments that keep Lava Jato (CarWash) investigations alive.
Since the beginning of the Bolsonaro government, Minister Moro has requested the council to remain under his jurisdiction, claiming that it is “strategic” for dealing with corruption and organized crime.
“Without information about the assets of these criminal organizations, about financial transactions of money laundering, and sometimes the time is fundamental to stop and prevent some of these operations, let alone the problem of terrorist financing risk, we cannot go any further. For the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, COAF is strategic,” said Moro earlier this month.
Even a plea by Brazil’s President himself seems to have had no influence over Congressional representatives. “We hope the Chamber plenary will keep COAF at the Ministry of Justice because it is a powerful tool to fight corruption and money laundering,” said President Jair Bolsonaro on his Facebook account at the beginning of May.