Similar in Their Differences: Transnational Legal Processes Addressing Money Laundering in Brazil and Argentina


Maira Machado is professor of law at São Paulo Law School of Fundação Getulio Vargas. Address correspondence to The author would like to thank for their comments Bernardo Mota, Pedro Gomes Pereira, Juan Felix Marteau, Guillermo Jorge, Kevin Davis, panels for the Transnational Legal Orders CRN at the Law and Society annual meetings, the participants of the Global Administrative Law Project at workshops at San Andres, Tsinghua, and New York University, and the anonymous reviewers. The author would also like to give a special thanks to Gregory Shaffer.


The purpose of this article is to provide a comparative analysis of the transnational legal processes that Brazil and Argentina underwent to address money laundering. The article discusses the interaction between the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) norms and a number of changes both countries have experienced in the last decade. The comparison focuses on the three central pillars of the anti-money laundering order (AMLO): criminalization, administrative obligations imposed on the financial sectors, and the creation of a financial intelligence unit. Building from the analytical framework developed by Shaffer (2011), the evidence gathered in this study illustrates different dimensions of state change and highlights the main challenges to assess the effectiveness (output legitimacy) of transnational legal orders empirically.