Sérgio Moro

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Sérgio Moro
Medalha da Ordem do Ipiranga ao Ministro Sérgio Moro - 48146010211 (cropped).jpg
Minister of Justice and Public Security
In office
1 January 2019 – 24 April 2020
PresidentJair Bolsonaro
Preceded byTorquato Jardim (Justice)
Raul Jungmann (Public Security)
Succeeded byAndré Luiz Mendonça
Personal details
Sérgio Fernando Moro[1]

(1972-08-01) 1 August 1972 (age 48)
Maringá, Paraná, Brazil
Spouse(s)Rosângela Wolff de Quadros
MotherOdete Starke Moro
FatherDalton Áureo Moro
EducationState University of Maringá (BA)
Federal University of Paraná (MA) (PhD)

Sérgio Fernando Moro (Brazilian Portuguese: [ˈsɛʁʒju ˈmoɾu]; born 1 August 1972) is a Brazilian jurist, former federal judge and college professor who served as Minister of Justice and Public Security for the government of president Jair Bolsonaro, from 2019 to 2020.[2][3] In 2015 he gained fame in Operation Car Wash (Portuguese: Operação Lava Jato), a high-profile scandal of corruption and bribery involving government officials and business executives.[4][5]

On 29 October 2018, days after the 2018 election, President-elect Jair Bolsonaro nominated Moro to be Minister of Justice and Public Security.[6] On 1 November, Moro accepted the job after personally meeting with Bolsonaro.[7][8] His appointment to Bolsonaro's cabinet and the way he had previously conducted Operation Car Wash (in particular President Lula's case) drew praise from his peers and by a significant portion of the Brazilian society, but also significant criticism was voiced, especially after revelations of alleged partiality and judicial misconduct on his part, published by the American investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, during the Car Wash investigations.[9][10][11][12][13][14] Moro left the government in April 2020, mentioning the President's undue interference in the affairs of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Moro was born in Maringá,[15] son of Odete Starke Moro and Dalton Áureo Moro, a former professor of geography at the State University of Maringá, who died in 2005.[16] His elder sibling, César Fernando Moro, owns a technology company.[17][18] The Moro family moved to Ponta Grossa when Sérgio and César were children.[19][better source needed] He is of Italian descent, with origins in the region of Veneto,[20] and identifies as Catholic.[21]

Moro is married to Rosângela Wolff de Quadros, a lawyer and current legal solicitor of the National Association of Parents and Friends of Exceptional Children (Associação de Pais e Amigos dos Excepcionais). They live in Curitiba and have a couple of school-age children.[22] In addition to his professional career, little is known about his personal life.[23][24] An article published in December 2014 by IstoÉ magazine described him as someone with "reserved lifestyle and simple habits".[25]

Academic education[edit]

Moro got a Law degree from State University of Maringá in 1995.[25] During his studies, he interned in a law firm for two years, being described as a "sensational person" by the lawyer who hired him.[26] He attended a summer course at Harvard Law School in 1998, including studies on money laundering promoted by the US Department of State.[25] He received his master's degree in 2000 from the Federal University of Paraná with the dissertation "Development and Judicial Enforcement of Constitutional Norms", guided by Professor Clèmerson Merlin Clève.[27][28] In 2002, he completed a PhD in State Law at the same institution with the thesis "Constitutional Jurisdiction as Democracy", guided by Marçal Justen Filho.[29][30] In 2007, he participated in the International Visitor Leadership Program in which he visited U.S. agencies and institutions responsible for preventing and combating money laundering.[31]


In 1996, Moro started teaching to law graduates at his alma mater, the Federal University of Paraná. This very same year, he became a federal judge in Porto Alegre, before moving to Joinville, Santa Catarina, in 1999. Between 2003 and 2007, Moro worked in a case involving the public bank Banestado. The investigation resulted in the arrest of nearly 200 people for tax evasion and money laundering.[32]

In 2012, he worked with Rosa Weber, a minister of the Brazilian Supreme Court, in the Mensalão scandal. Weber called him because of his experience with cases involving financial crimes, more specifically money laundering.[33]

Operation Car Wash[edit]

Moro in 2015.

In 2014, while working in Curitiba, Sergio Moro became one of the head judges in Operation Car Wash (Portuguese: Operação Lava Jato), a massive criminal investigation that started as a money laundering case and evolved to a huge corruption scandal crackdown, involving bribery and misappropriation of public funds by political authorities.[34] The investigation was modeled after Mani pulite in Italy.[35] Corruption scandals in Brazil usually take a long time to investigate and the whole legal process tends to drag. However, at an unusual speed, Moro authorized further investigations, detentions and questioning of suspects.[36] By late 2017, at least 120 sentences were carried and 175 people were sent to jail. Despite some criticism from fellow jurists for being a "media darling", Moro enjoyed high popularity with the Brazilian people and became one of the main faces in the fight against corruption in the country, at least in the public eye.[37]

Despite the criticism of the speed with which he passed the sentences for such a huge case,[38] his actions received the backing of the Brazilian Supreme Court and most of his sentences and decisions were upheld in higher courts.[39] By late 2016, Moro had sent 28 people to jail on charges of corruption, with four of them having their sentences reduced by a higher judge and four being set free upon further deliberation. Overall, in Operation Car Wash, 71% of the sentences given by Moro were upheld by the Brazilian Regional Federal Courts.[40]

In 2017, Moro sentenced former Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, to 9 and a half years in jail, on the charges of money laundering and passive corruption. The sentencing caused an uproar in Brazil, with many widely supporting and saluting the judge for his decision, with others claiming he was getting ahead of himself.[41] Lula was considered the frontrunner for the 2018 presidential election.[35]

Minister of Justice[edit]

During his many encounters with media and further interviews, Sergio Moro always called himself "apolitical" and said he had no interested in joining the political world. However, right after the 2018 elections, rumors started to circulate that the president-elect of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, was considering nominating Moro to head the Ministry of Justice. Despite claiming he was unaware of plans to make him justice minister before his invitation, it was later discovered that Moro was contacted by Paulo Guedes, an incoming member of Bolsonaro's administration, during Bolsonaro’s election campaign.[42] Exactly four days after the election, on 1 November 2018, Moro met with Bolsonaro in Rio de Janeiro, and it was then announced that, in fact, he would become a minister in Bolsonaro's administration.[43][44]

His nomination was well received by fellow magistrates across the country,[45] but opponents of Bolsonaro and some of the press criticized the decision on the grounds of conflict of interest, claiming that Moro's sentencing of former president Luís Inácio Lula da Silva greatly benefited Bolsonaro's bid for the presidency.[46]

On 12 May 2019, president Bolsonaro expressed the intention of nominating Moro to the Supreme Federal Court, replacing Justice Celso de Mello, who will retire, at age 75, in 2020.[47]

On 24 April 2020, after an unjustified discharge of Federal Police's Director-General Maurício Valeixo by president Bolsonaro, Moro announced he would leave the Ministry, while denouncing the president's intention to meddle in investigations.[48]


Moro holding a press conference in September 2015

Moro's methods have been questioned by his peers and audited by Brazilian Justices since 2005.[49] In 2007, when a defendant wasn't to be found at home, he issued an order to monitor the lists of passengers of all airliners flying from Ciudad del Este in Paraguay and from Porto Alegre in Brazil to Curitiba in order to track the movements of the defendant's attorneys.[49] From 2007 through 2010, he issued an order to record and collect all phone communications and visitor booth talks between all inmates, their families and attorneys at Catanduvas Federal Penitentiary in order to "prevent future crimes".[49]

These cases, among others, have been considered excesses and have brought grave criticism on Moro. Justice Celso de Mello has officially accused Moro of condoning a "nosy police state" and acting as an "investigative judge".[49] Additionally, Brazilian Justice Gilmar Mendes said he was worried about Moro's actions. For him, the case showed a "set of abusive acts" and "objectionable excesses" practiced by the judge. In his dissenting opinion he wrote that they are "unacceptable behaviors in which resistance or nonconformity of the magistrate is envisaged, when contradicted by decision of superior instance".[50]

On 6 December 2016, at a ceremony in which Moro was awarded a Man of the Year prize by Brazilian Editora Três publishing house, Moro was photographed laughing alongside Brazilian Senator Aécio Neves,[51] PSDB's candidate in Brazil's 2014 Presidential Election and main critic of PT's tenures in office. Since PT is the party most scrutinized by Operation Carwash, the photograph has caused an uproar among PT supporters. During an interview, Moro has said that "the photograph was unfortunate, but there's no bias in my decisions as a judge", while also remarking that Neves is not under his jurisdiction.[52] Neves was accused by five witnesses at Operation Carwash[53] of taking R$300,000 in bribes from Alberto Youssef.[54]

The speed with which Moro has treated specific actions that involve figures from the Brazilian left and his courteous relationship with members of the former opposition, some of which under investigation themselves, has been criticized by Brazilian jurists[55] and left-wing activists and politicians, who accuse Moro of being part of a lawfare strategy[56] in order to ostracize PT and bring PSDB to power.[57]

During a lecture at Harvard University in 2017, Sérgio Moro stated that he considers the use of undeclared donations – a crime in Brazilian electoral law – to fund elections more damaging than illicit enrichment through corruption: "If I take this bribe and deposit the money in Switzerland, the money stays there, it isn’t harming anyone at the moment. If, however, I use the money to fraud and win an election, I find that terrible."[58][59] On May, 2017, then-congressman Onyx Lorenzoni admitted to having used slush funds donated by JBS in his 2014 campaign for Congress.[60][61][62] Lorenzoni has been appointed Chief of Staff by president-elect Jair Bolsonaro;[63] upon being questioned by the press about Lorenzoni’s public admission on the use of slush funds, Moro has stated that Lorenzoni has already apologized to him and has his "personal trust".[64][65][66][67][68] In November, 2018, Senator Roberto Requião (MDB) proposed a bill called "Lorenzoni Law", which would grant immediate pardon for anyone found guilty of electoral and public administration crimes or crimes against the national financial system, as long as they ask for forgiveness. This proposal, although official, has been considered a joke on Moro’s statements.[69][70][71]

Telegram leaks[edit]

On 9 June 2019, the online newspaper The Intercept published leaked Telegram messages between Moro and the Operation Car Wash lead prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol, in which Moro allegedly sent advice and instructions to the prosecutor in order to interfere in the investigation that ultimately led to the trial and imprisonment of former president Lula da Silva.[72] He was accused of not showing impartiality as a judge of da Silva's trial.[73] Three days later, another conversation was leaked, revealing a secret meeting between Dallagnol and Supreme Court Justice Luiz Fux, asking for his support against the then fellow Supreme Court judge Teori Zavascki.[74] Moro has thoroughly denied any wrongdoing during the course of Operation Carwash and claimed that the conversations leaked by The Intercept were misrepresented by the press.[75] He also claimed that the messages could be inauthentic.[73]

On June 12th, Brazilian conservative magazine Veja published a report accusing Moro of “illegally” steering prosecutors as they worked to convict Brazilian politicians and "overstepping his role as judge," claiming that its journalists had spent a fortnight pouring over nearly 650,000 leaked messages between officials involved in the investigation, and concluded the former judge was guilty of serious “irregularities.” Following the report, Moro released a statement condemning “the distorted and sensationalist diffusion of supposed messages obtained by criminal means.”[76][77]


  1. ^ Brown, Dennis (2 October 2017). "Brazilian Judge Sérgio Moro receives Notre Dame Award". University of Notre Dame. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  2. ^ "A história de Sergio Moro, o juiz que sacudiu o Brasil com a Lava-Jato". GaúchaZH (in Portuguese). Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Ex-juiz Sergio Moro anuncia demissão do Ministério da Justiça e deixa o governo Bolsonaro" [Former judge Sergio Moro announces resignation of the Ministry of Justice and leaves the Bolsonaro's government]. G1.com (in Portuguese). Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  4. ^ "Effects of Petrobras scandal leave Brazilians lamenting a lost dream". The New York Times. 9 August 2015. Retrieved 15 July 2017. If any good has come from the Petrobras debacle it is the flickering sense that this time could be different. Part of the reason is the work of Judge Sérgio Moro, who is overseeing the investigation, officially known as Operação Lava Jato, or Operation Carwash.
  5. ^ Cruz, Fernanda (31 August 2015). "Sergio Moro fighting corruption should bring benefits to Brazil". Agência Brasil. Retrieved 15 July 2017."Federal Judge Sérgio Moro, in charge of the proceedings opened under Operation Car Wash"..."The judge reported that the evidence gathered during the operation as well as the allegations given under plea bargain indicate that the payment of bribes through contracts at Petrobras was a common practice."
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  27. ^ "Staff View: Desenvolvimento e efetivação judicial das normas constitucionais". 4 March 2017. Archived from the original on 4 March 2017. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  28. ^ Moro, Sérgio Fernando. Development and Judicial Enforcement of Constitutional Norms. Dissertation presented to the Law Postgraduate Degree of the Federal University of Paraná, as a partial requirement to obtain the Master's degree, having as advisor Prof. Dr. Clèmerson Merlin Clève. Curitiba, 2000.
  29. ^ Moro, Sérgio Fernando. Jurisdição constitucional como democracia. Thesis presented to the Postgraduate Course in Law of the Federal University of Paraná, as a partial requirement to obtain the title of Doctor, having as advisor Prof. Dr. Marçal Justen Filho. Curitiba, 2002.
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  44. ^ "This Man Is Playing a Big Role in Brazil's Election—and He Isn't Even on the Ballot". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
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  49. ^ a b c d "Excessos de Sergio Moro são discutidos no STF e no CNJ pelo menos desde 2005".
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  51. ^ "Viu esta foto? Entenda por que a descontração entre Moro e Aécio repercutiu - Notícias - Política".
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  54. ^ marcelop. "Aécio Neves teria recebido R$ 300 mil em propina da UTC, diz delator".
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  56. ^ "A ultraceleridade seletiva da Lava Jato é forma de Lawfare". 10 April 2018.
  57. ^ "Ocupado com PT e viagens internacionais, Moro está sem tempo para julgar corrupção do PSDB". 12 June 2018.
  58. ^ "Caixa 2 é pior que corrupção para enriquecimento ilícito, diz Sérgio Moro". Estadão. 8 April 2017. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
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  68. ^ "Moro diz ter "confiança pessoal" em Onyx, que admitiu caixa dois". Veja. 4 December 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  69. ^ "Requião ironiza Moro e propõe projeto de lei "Ônix Lorenzoni"". Folha de São Paulo. 8 November 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
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  72. ^ Fishman, Andrew; Martins, Rafael Moro; Demori, Leandro; Santi, Alexandre de; Greenwald, Glenn (9 June 2019). "Breach of Ethics: Exclusive: Leaked Chats Between Brazilian Judge and Prosecutor Who Imprisoned Lula Reveal Prohibited Collaboration and Doubts Over Evidence". The Intercept. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  73. ^ a b Londoño, Ernesto (25 July 2019). "Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil President, Says His Phones Were Hacked". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  74. ^ "Em nova mensagem divulgada por site, Dallagnol diz que Fux apoiou Moro em 'queda de braço' com Teori" [In New Message Published By Website, Dallagnol Says That Fux Supported Moro In 'Arm Wrestling' With Teori] (in Portuguese). G1. 12 June 2019. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  75. ^ "Moro nega ter orientado procuradores da Lava-Jato e abandona entrevista". Correio Braziliense (in Portuguese). 10 June 2019. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  76. ^ "Novos diálogos revelam que Moro orientava ilegalmente ações da Lava Jato". VEJA.com (in Portuguese). Retrieved 30 September 2019.
  77. ^ correspondent, Tom Phillips Latin America (5 July 2019). "Brazil: calls grow for Bolsonaro ally to quit after 'devastating' report on leaks". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
Political offices
Preceded by
Torquato Jardim
as Minister of Justice
Minister of Justice and Public Security
Succeeded by
André Luiz Mendonça
Preceded by
Raul Jungmann
as Minister of Public Security