Guest Post: Brazil’s Bill Restricting Cash Transactions Would Help Fight Corruption

Today’s guest post is from Marcelo Costenaro Cavali, a Brazilian Federal Judge in the District Court of Sao Paolo and a Professor of Criminal Law at the FGV Sao Paolo law faculty.

Criminals like to use cash because it is widely accepted, anonymous, and virtually impossible to track. Paying bribes in cash, for example, may be less risky than using more easily traceable electronic transfers. For this reason, many countries have enacted, or are considering, legislation restricting the use or possession of cash in large quantities. For example, in Brazil, the Senate is currently considering a bill that would prohibit the use of cash for all real estate transactions and for all other transactions over 10,000 Brazilian reais (approximately 1,900 US$); the bill would further prohibit carrying over 100,000 reais (approximately 19,000 US$) and possessing over 300,000 reais (approximately 57,000 US$) in cash, except in specific situations. (The bill would leave the implementation and enforcement to the Brazilian Financial Intelligence Unit (COAF), which would also have the power to adjust the threshold amounts.) Such limits on holding and using cash can be an effective means for disrupting money laundering, corruption, and tax evasion, and this bill, if passed, could therefore be an important step forward in Brazil’s fight against corruption and other economic crimes. Continue reading