What is Coaf?

The Financial Activities Control Council ( Coaf ) is an organ of the Brazilian government, created in 1998, which works to prevent and combat money laundering.

Currently, Coaf is linked to the Central Bank and has already produced more than 40 thousand financial intelligence reports. About 400 of these were responsible for starting major operations such as Lava Jato and Mensalão.

What is Coaf for and how does it work?

Coaf is an organ with a very strong technical structure and has been operating with prominence in the Brazilian political scene. He is responsible for tracking atypical bank transactions through his financial intelligence reports.

For this tracking to happen, the agency has a large database that gathers all suspicious financial transactions. These transactions are guaranteed by law and are communicated to Coaf by banks, brokers and insurance companies.

When the body perceives any evidence of illicit practice, it has an obligation to inform the other investigative bodies, who may or may not request explanations from the person responsible.

It is important to note that a financial transaction is considered suspicious by financial institutions and COAF, when the transaction values ​​do not equal the equity held by the person in charge.

COAF’s changes in the Bolsonaro government

Since its creation, Coaf was linked to the Ministry of Economy, responsible for controlling and managing the national economy. In May 2019, Minister of Justice Sérgio Moro linked the body to his ministry, appointing Roberto Leonel as president. However, after some impasses in the National Congress, Coaf returned to respond to the Ministry of Economy.

In August 2019, a Provisional Measure was instituted by President Jair Messias Bolsonaro, in order to modify the name of the body and link it to the Central Bank. The MP was approved by the Chamber and sanctioned by the President. See the main changes that occurred:

How Coaf worked

  • The body was linked to the Ministry of Economy;
  • At the beginning of the Bolsonaro government, Coaf was under the command of President Roberto Leonel, appointed by Sérgio Moro;
  • In addition to the president, his structure was based on 14 councilors who by law should be public servants linked to bodies such as the Federal Police and the Federal Comptroller General.

How Coaf works today

  • The body is now linked to the Central Bank;
  • The then president Roberto Leonel, was replaced by the retired civil servant Roberto Liáo, former employee of the Central Bank;
  • In addition to President Roberto Liáo, the MP sanctioned by Bolsonaro approves that Coaf now has advisers who do not need to be civil servants, but rather ordinary Brazilian citizens, of full reputation and who have knowledge or actions against financial crimes.


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