The Brazilian government has been closing ranks against corruption using different tools. Some of them can serve as examples of possible measures to be taken by other countries in the region. This post describes some of the main measures that have been taken by the Brazilian government to fight corruption.
Increased enforcement of anti-bribery laws. Brazil has increased its enforcement of anti-corruption laws. According to local media, between 2008 and 2012, the number of individuals convicted for active and passive corruption and related crime has increased 133%. That increase counts only final judicial decisions and is 7 times higher than the increase of the incarcerated population in the same period. Currently, there are 2,703 individuals in Brazil serving prison for corruption and related crimes. Moreover, in 2013 alone, the Brazilian Federal Police has conducted 172 special operations to combat corruption, money laundering and related crimes. As a result, 940 individuals, including 47 public employees, have been arrested (such arrests are still pending judicial review).
Transparency. Brazil is not only enforcing its anti-corruption laws in its efforts to fight corruption. Transparency has been seen as an important tool to prevent and detect corruption, expanding access to information and acts of the Public Administration.
Since 2004, the federal government has maintained a Transparency Portal where anyone can obtain information about, among other things direct spending of the federal government with procurements or contracts; spending of each federal agency with per diems and office supplies; and, spending through credit cards of public employees. Currently, the information is made available on the portal almost in real time (all expenses from the previous day are made available on the following day) and the number of visits it gets is significant (the current monthly average of visitors is around 876,000). The Transparency Portal also keeps a list with names of individuals and companies debarred or suspended at the federal level and in most of states. As of October 6, 2013, the list had 9,237 names.
Also, in May 2012, the Brazilian Access to Information Law (12.527/2011) came into force. The law provides procedures for requests of information and covers obligations of proactive disclosures at all levels of government and in the three branches. From May 2012 to October 2013, the Brazilian Government received 123,543 requests for information, from which 119,437 have already been answered.
Implementation of new Legislation. In addition to enforcing its existing laws and increasing transparency, Brazil has been implementing new legislation to comply with international agreements and to fill gaps in its existing legislation. In July 2012, Law 12.683/2012 amended the existing anti-money laundering legislation, incorporating significant changes such as increasing fines and broadening the list of predicate offenses and persons obligated to report suspicious activities. Further information about Brazil`s anti-money laundering law can be found here.
Likewise, on August 2013, Brazil passed a new anti-corruption law (12,846/2013), which imposes civil and administrative liability on legal entities for acts committed against local and foreign public administration, especially those related to corrupt practices. Such law will come into force in early 2014. Further information about it can be found here, here and here.
Exchange of information and building capacity of enforcement authorities. Brazil has seen an increase in the exchange of information among local authorities as well as with foreign authorities. For example, recently the Federal Police force has signed strategic cooperation agreements with the Brazilian Securities and Exchange Commission and the Brazilian IRS. At the international level, enforcement actions in Brazil have implicated a number of foreign multinationals, and information obtained by the Brazilian authorities has been shared with the foreign authorities. Foreign authorities are also sharing information with Brazilian authorities.
At a recent event in Brazil, Brazilian enforcement officials stated that some of their staff had recently participated in anti-corruption trainings conducted by enforcement authorities of other countries. Moreover, they said that various Brazilian authorities are now being training on the new anti-corruption law so that, when the law comes into force, they will be ready to investigate violations and apply the law properly.
Despite the significant progress made by Brazil in the recent past in its fight against corruption, there is still a lot to be done and improved. The different venues described above; however, seem to indicate that the country is trying to go in the right direction.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author in his or her individual capacity, and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone else, including the entities with which the author is affiliated, the author`s employers, other contributors, FCPAméricas, or its advertisers. The information in the FCPAméricas blog is intended for public discussion and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal advice to its readers and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It does not seek to describe or convey the quality of legal services. FCPAméricas encourages readers to seek qualified legal counsel regarding anti-corruption laws or any other legal issue. FCPAméricas gives permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author and to FCPAméricas LLC.
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Post authored by Carlos Henrique da Silva Ayres, FCPAméricas Contributor