Police can request financial reports from Coaf without prior approval from the Court, confirms STF

Police can request financial reports from Coaf without prior approval from the Court, confirms STF
Police can request financial reports from Coaf without prior approval from the Court, confirms STF
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The statue of Justice in front of the STF

Photo: DIDA SAMPAIO/ESTADÃO / Estadão

The First Panel of the Federal Supreme Court confirmed this Tuesday, 2, the understanding that the Police can request intelligence reports directly from the Financial Activities Control Council (Coaf), without prior approval from the Court. The collegiate upheld the decision of Minister Cristiano Zanin who, in November, overturned the act of the Superior Court of Justice after seeing the affront to the binding decision of the highest Court.

The minister reinforced the warning about the effects of possibly maintaining the STJ’s understanding – against requesting intelligence reports directly by investigators.

According to Zanin, the decision could harm a series of sensitive investigations, not only into money laundering (related to a specific case that came before the STF), but also into terrorism and drug trafficking.

The understanding was followed by the other members of the First Panel. Minister Flávio Dino, for example, highlighted the potential ‘drastic and dangerous multiplier effect’ of the STJ’s decision, classifying it as a ‘carrier of very serious legal uncertainty’.

The decision was handed down unanimously as part of an appeal by the defense of a brewery manager, investigated for alleged money laundering, against Zanin’s decision in November.

On the occasion, the minister accepted a request from the Public Ministry of Pará, which questioned the invalidation, by the STJ, of Coaf reports requested by the Police during the investigation.

The Superior Court of Justice had assessed that Coaf can send information to investigators, spontaneously, but it would be illegal for them to request information from the financial intelligence body.

When analyzing the case, Zanin understood that the decision of the Sixth Panel of the STJ contravened the decision of the highest Court, which established the thesis of the constitutionality of sharing Coaf reports with criminal prosecution bodies, ‘without the obligation of prior judicial authorization’.

In the rapporteur’s assessment, maintaining the STJ’s understanding could make investigations more difficult and could also lead to ‘serious international law implications’ for the country.

The trial cited by Zanin took place in 2019 and evaluated not only the forwarding of reports by Coaf, but also information requested by the Public Ministry. On that occasion, Senator Flávio’s appeal in the ‘rachadinha’ case was analyzed.

The minister reproduced excerpts from the votes of the STF ministers on the topic, especially that of the case’s rapporteur, minister Dias Toffoli, who considered: “There is no doubt, for me, about the possibility of the FIU (Financial Intelligence Unit) sharing reports at the request of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the police or other competent authorities”.

In the monocratic decision signed in November, it had already been reported that authorities from the Federal Police, the Central Bank and Coaf itself went to his office to express concern about the ‘multiplier effect’ of the STJ’s decision.

“There is, in terms of financial intelligence, an international standard for combating money laundering, currency vision, terrorism and drug trafficking which, with all due respect, was disregarded by the decision of the Sixth Panel of the STJ”, noted the minister in the occasion.

In the trial this Tuesday, 2, the First Panel endorsed Zanin’s decision.

Dino, the first to vote in the session, after the rapporteur, stressed how the issue of sharing Coaf data is a thesis consolidated by the highest court, which ‘clearly’ defined the topic. In his assessment, the distinction made by the STJ is ‘illogical’.

Minister Alexandre de Moraes pointed out that the STJ’s understanding is in ‘blatant contradiction’ with the Supreme Court’s thesis. According to the president of the 1st class, that Court cited the STF’s ruling and then concluded something ‘that doesn’t exist’. “He half-read the judgment.”

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Police request financial reports Coaf prior approval Court confirms STF

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