Brazil in the fight against foreign bribery: Lessons from Odebrecht and Petrobras cases

Brasil en la Lucha contra el Soborno Trasnacional: Lecciones de los casos Odebrecht y Petrobras

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With globalization expanding around the world during the 20th century, foreign bribery practices increased accordingly due to more and more financial and commercial transactions concluded across borders. Foreign bribery refers to unlawful payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. In Latin America, Brazil is the leading country in the prosecution and sanction of foreign bribery, having concluded several cases of foreign bribery, including a major one with substantial sanctions in 2016. The central question of the study from a legal point of view is what factors can explain Brazil’s results in prosecuting and sanctioning foreign bribery. The analysis of the resolution of bribery cases in Brazil shows that several main factors explain Brazil’s success. In fact, Brazilian authorities participate in a coordinated resolution with other authorities, such as the American authorities. This was the scenario in some well-known bribery cases, such as the Odebrecht and Petrobras cases. In a coordinated resolution, authorities justify their actions with their own legal basis, they use instruments to resolve cases without trial and they create a final agreement that permits dividing the fine between the countries involved.

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