Brazil prosecutor freezes $11.7 million of Facebook funds due to WhatsApp case

A 3D printed Whatsapp logo is seen in front of a displayed Facebook logo in this illustration taken April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The public federal prosecutor in the Brazilian state of Amazonas said on Wednesday the court there froze 38 million reais ($11.7 million) of funds held in Facebook Inc’s account for failing to comply with a court order to supply data on users of the company’s WhatsApp messaging service who are under criminal investigation.

The prosecutor’s office said the funds frozen correspond to the fines for failing to comply with court order to turn over data.

Facebook representatives were not immediately available for comment.

In the most recent decision, the court rejected Facebook’s defense that the data of users was the responsibility of telephone and internet service operators in the United States and Ireland, which would require international cooperation.

Prosecutor Alexandre Jabur, author of the order, said Facebook has shown enormous disregard for Brazilian institutions, especially the courts, prosecutors and police in not meeting court orders.

Brazilian courts have shut down the popular WhatsApp messaging service nationwide three times since December.

In the most recent case last week, a judge in Rio de Janeiro ordered local operators to suspend service to WhatsApp across the country until Facebook complied with an order to turn over information regarding a criminal process in the greater Rio area.

On the same day, Supreme Court President Ricardo Lewandowski ordered the service re-established.

Reporting by Aluisio Alves; Writing by Reese Ewing; Editing by Leslie Adler