Is the momentum of the Operation Car Wash waning in Brazil? What would be the implications if the country’s legislative arm can forestall or even turn back the achievements of the judicial branch in the fight against bribery and corruption, which is viewed as endemic in that country. That and other questions came to mind for The Man From FCPA when he saw recent reports that Brazilian legislative figures are trying to obstruct the ongoing corruption investigations.
Recently the Wall Street Journal reported a three pronged effort by Brazilian legislators to denude the ability of Brazilian prosecutors to move forward. One the tactical level, the Brazilian Senate’s security function is alleged to have removed wire taps from the homes and offices certain senators under investigation. On the broader level, Senate leader Renan Calherios has called prosecutors efforts an over-reach and accused them of grandstanding when announcing prosecutions.
However most troubling is the Senator’s attempt to pass legislation granting “broad immunity for defendants and allow them to sue authorities deemed overzealous.” Deltan Dallagnol, one of the lead prosecutors in Operation Car Wash said for the article, “The greatest risk we see is the risk of legislative reactions, of using the instruments of political power to create laws, to create mechanisms to obstruct, suppress, hinder the investigation or allow retaliation against the investigations.” Even more ominously, Dallagnol, noted, that these legislative initiative would “make the lives of investigators…hell.”
Such a power struggle is really not too surprising given the history of bribery and corruption in the country, the independent prosecutors’ stand on taking on the rich and powerful in the country and the ever tightened gaol around the Brazilian Senate. However it is troubling. For if the legislator can not only grant blanket immunity but also allow legal actions to be brought against prosecutors; it may very well weaken this very public effort in the fight against international bribery and corruption.