Operation Car Wash Circumvented Legal Limits to Obtain Personal Tax Data

Task force searched for information with out a formal request with current COAF chef Robert Leonel

Ricardo Balthazar & Felipe Bächtold, Folha Paula Bianchi & Leandro Demori, The Intercept Brasil

Operation Car Wash prosecutors circumvented legal limits to obtain sensitive tax personal data, according to messages obtained by The Intercept Brasil and analyzed by Folha and the site.

The messages show that members of the Curitiba task force in Curitiba sought information from Brazil's revenue service about people it wanted to investigate without a formal request and court authorization. 

To obtain the data, prosecutors counted on the cooperation of tax auditor Roberto Leonel, who headed COAF's intelligence area in Curitiba until 2018 and assumed the presidency of the Financial Activities Control Board (COAF) in the Jair Bolsonaro (PSL) government.

Operation Car Wash prosecutors in 2016 (Foto: Paulo Lisboa/Folhapress) - Folhapress

The messages also show that the task force established such a close working relationship with Leonel that they relied on him to verify investigators' hypotheses, without any objective elements to justify access to data from the tax authorities.

At the beginning of 2016, prosecutors used this file frequently during investigations into reforms carried out by contractors at the Atibaia (SP) site frequented by former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (PT).

From January to March of this year, the task force asked Leonel to gather information about Lula's daughter-in-law, the housekeeper, the heritage of her former owners, and purchases that the wife of the PT leader, Marisa Leticia Lula da Silva, would have made at that time.

The Lava Jato task force in Curitiba and the Revenue service stated that the exchange of information between them during investigations is permitted by law and occurs within limits that respect the taxpayers' guaranteed confidentiality.

Leonel and COAF did not respond to the report's questions.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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