In the last years, the Brazilian government enacted several legal statutes that fostered the creation of a new environment of fight against corruption, including, among others: an amendment to the Brazilian Criminal Code, in order to punish corrupt practices internationally; the regulation of the Plea Bargaining, which allows defendants to provide information that contributes to the investigation of the crimes, in exchange for a more lenient sentence; and the approval of the Brazilian Anticorruption Law.
These statutes were followed by a substantial change in the approach of Brazilian authorities with regards to corruption. The so-called "Operação Lava Jato" severally impacted the Brazilian market, and was responsible for several convictions and for the recovery and blockage of billions of Brazilian Reais. Every day, new allegations, confirmations and admissions of corrupt practices are made public, based on which several managers of renowned companies have been sent to jail. In the majority of the cases, Plea Bargainings based on the new statute have been signed in exchange for a reduction in penalties of the investigated persons.
At the same time, several administrative proceedings were initiated for the punishment of companies investigated within Operação Lava Jato and may lead to the application of considerable fines, which may vary from 0.1% to 20% of the company's gross revenues. These companies may also be obliged to fully repair the damage caused to the public property, in addition to other sanctions.
All of this shows that the reality has changed and, therefore, Brazilian companies can no longer look at corruption as they did in the past. They should take the necessary measures not to be involved in corrupt practices, which mandatorily include the adoption of an efficient Anticorruption Compliance Program.
According to the Anticorruption Law, an efficient Compliance Program shall include internal mechanisms and procedures for integrity, auditing and incentives to report irregularities, in addition to the effective application of ethics and conduct codes. Such a program shall lead to the reduction of fines up to 4% of the company's gross revenues in case corruption acts are practiced on behalf of the company. More important than that, adopting such a Compliance Program is the path any company shall take in order to eliminate corruption in its business.
The implementation of these programs is essential, and should
not be seen as a cost, but instead as an investment. Moreover, this
investment needs not be high, but adapted to each company's
profile, size and exposure to corruption risks.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.