A visible sign of the political pressure achieved by reform campaigners in Brazil: A tabled piece of anti-corruption legislation dusted off and approved by both houses in the face of a looming referendum on the issue.
BRAZIL — The so-called Anti-Corruption Law, which punishes companies that engage in corrupt practices, has been passed by Congress and awaits the sanction of President Dilma.
The law was an initiative of the Lula government, sent down to Congress on February 8, 2010. Now, under pressure from street protests, its passage has been expedited.
The law was conceived by the Comptroller-General of the Union, under the command of Jorge Hage, and the Ministry of Justice, under Tarso Genro. The Casa Civil also contributed to the bill during Dilma’s tenure as the equivalent of presidential chief of staff.
The text adopts the recommendations of international anticorruption conventions adhered to by Brazil with organizations such as the UN, the OAS and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It is also favorable to the investment climate in Brazil.
Currently, only individual public agents caught in the act in corruption cases are punished — there is no punishment for corporations that pay bribes. These will now face fines ranging from 0.1% to 20% of annual gross, or between R$ 6,000 and R$ 60 million.
In the U.S., there are two laws on the books dealing with foreign corrupt practices in both foreign and domestic jurisdictions:
The largest penalty ever applied under the FCPA was a $450 million fine paid by Siemens.
Hewlett Packard is currently under investigation for alleged bribe-paying in Russia.
An April 2012 article in The New York Times reported that a former executive of Walmart de Mexico alleged in September 2005 that Walmart de Mexico had paid bribes to officials throughout Mexico in order to obtain construction permits, that Walmart investigators found credible evidence that Mexican and American laws had been broken, and that Walmart executives in the United States “hushed up” the allegations.
Under the previous set of rules, it was practically impossible to hold foreign lobbyists to account, and nearly as difficult to satisfy the in flagrante delicto provisions as they pertain to Brazilian officials.
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