The conference is now starting. First up is Felipe Kury, the Thomson
Reuters Business Director in Brazil. He gives a short introduction
explaining why Thomson Reuters and the Thomson Reuters Foundation are
organising this conference in Brazil. He passes the microphone on to
Monique Villa, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Monique Villa introduces the Foundation and the programs of the Foundation.
Monique Villa finishes talking about the Foundation and introduces the
day's keynote speaker Marivaldo Pereira, Legislative Secretary in
Brazil's Ministry of Justice.
Pereira says that the fight against corruption in Brazil is improving
all the time:
He says that Brazil's Federal Police are enforcing corruption laws
more actively; there is now a transparency portal, set up by the
federal government which sets out all public spending for Brazilians
to scrutinize. This has won multiple prizes and is being copied
internationally, Pereira says.
Pereira describes two more tools in Brazil's fight against corruption:
Brazil recently passed a right/access to information law which will
allow the public to have access to all public information.
Pereira then goes on to give details about Brazil's anti-bribery draft
bill, No. 6826/2010. The bill still needs to be approved by congress
and is expected to come to vote any day now.
The draft anti-bribery bill aims to punish corporations that bribe
public officials. There is an anti-bribery law (in Brazil) that
punishes an individual that give a bribes but not a corporation.
The Office of the Comptroller General will be the agency that will
enforce the draft anti-bribery law, Pereira says.
Pereira says that currently someone can set up a company, pay a bribe
to an official (through the company) and then close the company down.
The individual will then disappear for a while before starting another
corporation. The cycle then continues anew. The draft law will target
exactly this sort of problem.
[ScribbleLive] Update: See below.
After answering a few questions from the audience, Pereira hands over
to Matteson Ellis, an American lawyer who specializes in
anti-corruption issues in Latin America.
Ellis is moderating a panel that includes Congressman Carlos
Zarattini, the author of Brazil's draft anti-bribery law and Jorge
Hage Sobrinho, Minister of State, Office of the Comptroller General.
Hage will be the official charged with enforcing the bill (should it
be passed by congress into law).
[ScribbleLive] Update: See below.
Hage arrived at the conference just in time... He walks through the
door (with his arm in a sling) just as he is introduced by Matteson
Zarattini expresses his belief that his draft bill will be passed into
law very soon.
He also says that the next public debate that is needed is a debate
about the funding of electoral campaigns. Legislation that curtails
the private funding of electoral campaigns is needed to bring more
equality/fairness into elections.
Zarattini says that the anti-bribery law will change corporate
behaviour. Corporations will be forced to have compliance programs
that train their employees about the law.
Also, the law will provide a certain amount of leniency towards
companies that cooperate with the authorities. If the company
confesses, cooperates and provides data etc. the punishment that the
company receives will be reduced.
Wrapping up his talk, Zarattini calls for the draft law to be publicly
disseminated so that everyone can read it and provide comment.
Jorge Hage Sobrinho, Brazil's Comptroller General takes the microphone.
Hage says that while the draft bill is a very important step in
Brazil's fight against corruption, local transparency initiatives are
also very important and the Comptroller General's office puts a lot of
resources into helping local transparency initiatives. The CG's office
only provides oversight of federal spending. Therefore, if a local
government spends money in a fraudulent way that does not include
federal money, the CG has no ability to sanction. Citizens need to be
able to hold their local governments to account, Hage says.
Hage says that the famous 'mensalao' corruption case -in which last
month a number of Brazilian lawmakers were found guilty of taking
bribes in return for their vote on specific issues- took 7 years from
start to finish. Hage said this was exceptionally fast! In the future,
this will not be the norm, corruption cases will take longer.
Matteson Ellis asks Congressman Zarattini when the draft anti-bribery
law will be voted on. Ellis calls it the question that everyone
desperately want to know.
Zarattini says that he expects the law to be voted on by the end of
November, possibly the beginning of December. However, delays are
still possible, Zarattini says.
Apologies for the recent radio silence. Constant blogging from a
Blackberry, drains the battery pretty quickly...
Normal service to resume from here to the end.
Hage is asked a question from the floor about whether the Comptroller
General's office has been given a budget that will allow it to enforce
the new anti-bribery bill - should it be approved. The questioner
refers to the Serious Fraud Office in the UK and how its budget has
been reduced so drastically that critics say that the SFO no longer
has the ability to enforce the new UK Bribery Act.
Hage says that the CG will have the budget that it needs to enforce
the law. He says that the CG is not able to ask for a large budget
before the law is passed and that the budget will depend on demand. In
other words, if his office starts hundreds of corruption
investigations, he will have the budget to initiate hundreds of
investigations but if the CG investigates thousands, the CG will be
given the budget to investigate thousands.
Hage adds that as long as there is political will to fund the fight
against corruption, his office will be fine. Right now, we have the
political will, he says.
Lucinda Low, a partner at the law firm Steptoe and Johnson gives a
keynote speech on 'Fighting Corruption on the Global Stage: The
Importance of Brazil' via video conference
Low says that she wants to address the question: Does it matter if
this anti-bribery bill is passed.
She answers her own question by saying that it does matter. Brazil was
quick to sign up to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention but because
Brazil does not have the ability to hold companies to account (either
in civil law or criminal law), the country is not in full compliance
with the OECD convention, she says. The new anti-bribery law will
change that, Low says.
Low says that the Mensalao scandal reminds her of the Watergate
scandal in the US. The Brazilian scandal could potentially mark the
end of an era of impunity in Brazil as Watergate did in the US, she
says. She also remarks that the Watergate scandal was the driving
force behind the passing of the US anti-corruption law the Foreign
Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in 1977.
Low is asked from the floor about what the US will do about
These small payments, sometimes known as grease payments, are paid to
public officials to facilitate or speed up a service that they are
required to perform as part of their official duties. The example
often cited is that of a customs official who is paid a small sum of
money to clear a package through customs faster than that official
might otherwise do. The US has an exception in their anti-bribery laws
that allows these payments.
Low says that she doesn't see this exception being removed from the US
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act any time soon. She also says that it
should be kept in mind that US authorities hold a very restrictive
view as to what constitutes a facilitation payment. As a result, there
is a trend for companies acting internationally to ban them outright
even though they may be legal under US law.
The final panel of the day sees the Foundation's own chief
anti-corruption correspondent Stella Dawson on moderating duties.
She is moderating a panel that includes Wagner Giovanini, the head of
compliance for Siemens in Latin America; Josie Jardim, the general
counsel for General Electric in Latin America; and Carlos Ayres, a
lawyer at the Brazilian lawfirm Trench, Rossi e Watanabe.
The panel is asked about some of the specifics of their company's
Wagner Giovanini says that collective action is very important. He
says that in Brazil, the CEOs of Siemens, General Electric, Toshiba
and Philips signed an integrity pact saying that they would not pay
bribes. Customers had in the past tried to play the four companies off
against each other when demanding bribes i.e they would say, pay us X
and if you don't we'll go to one of your competitors, Giovanini said.
Carlos Ayres is asked by Dawson about the importance of carrying out
anti-corruption due diligence when one company is buying another.
Ayres says that it's very important to conduct due diligence but that
historically Brazilian companies don't do it. The only Brazilian companies that do it, do so because they are subject to the FCPA or UK Bribery Act. In fact, some Brazilian companies get offended if
they're asked intrusive questions about corruption by a foreign
company, Ayres says. 'They (the company buying us) think we're
corrupt' is the thought process of the Brazilian company, Ayres said.
Hopefully, the passing of Brazil's new anti-corruption law will change
this view, Ayres said.
(this post was edited following its original posting to clarify that Brazilian companies don't generally carry out due diligence either when acquiring companies overseas or locally. The deciding factor as to whether a Brazilian company carries out anti-corruption due diligence is whether it is subject to a strict anti-corruption law such as the FCPA or UK Bribery Act).
The conference comes to an end leaving Stella Dawson and Monique Villa
to thank the panellists and audience.
Thanks for reading!
Just arrived at the conference centre. There are hordes of people here already but it's all very well organised. 20 minutes until President Rousseff officially opens the 15th IACC.
Brazil's President Rousseff kicks off the International Anti-Corruption Conference shortly here in Brasilia with a keynote speech. Packed conference centre, roughly 1,500 people from all over world. Organisers say 30 pct of registrants from Central and South America, 20 pct from North America, 20 pct from Europe, 15 pct each from Africa/MENA and from Asia/Pacific regions.
Rousseff says Brazil is taking a leading role in using technology to increase government transparency and accountability. She welcomes the re-election of President Obama, who she says has worked with her on open governance -- her comment that evokes clapping from the audience.
Rousseff calls for greater regulation of international financial flows, saying it poses a huge challenge. "Without proper control of international financial flows we are all subject to manipulation," she says, adding that the flows hit the poorest sectors of society in every nation of the world the hardest. Brazil's officials for several years have warned of a currency war where a weak US dollar causes capital to flow into emerging markets pushing up the value of their currencies and harming their exports. Here at the IACC though the concern primarily is illicit financial flows, where criminal money or illegal gains from corruption leave a country bleeding it of wealth -- something Rousseff did not explicitly mention.