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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 May, 2003, 22:38 GMT 23:38 UK
Brazil cracks down on money launderers
President Lula
Lula announces crackdown
The Brazilian government has announced a series of measures to crack down on money laundering by the country's increasingly powerful criminal organisations.

Amongst other things, the government is for the first time to create a special unit to trace laundered money.

The measures against money laundering are a somewhat belated effort to confront the growing power of organised crime in many of Brazil's big cities.

Criminal gangs are involved in large-scale drugs and arms trafficking.

Corruption scandals

In addition, Brazil has been rocked in recent years by a series of major corruption scandals, including transfers of stolen money out of the country by some top politicians.

Some estimates suggest money laundering may reach more than thirty-billion dollars a year.

The new measures announced by the Justice Minister, Marcio Thomaz Bastos, will oblige banks to inform the central bank of all transfers more than thirty-five-thousand dollars.

More important, the government will create a special unit to co-ordinate investigations between all the different government ministries and departments.

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