As Brazil takes the world stage for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and, shortly thereafter, for the 2016 Summer Olympics — the third to be held in a BRIC country in a decade — the governments of Brazil, Chile and other leading Latin American economies are increasingly responding to calls from their people and the international community for increased anti-corruption efforts and transparency. Though it remains to be seen to what extent new anti-corruption regulations will change the status quo in Latin America — where public corruption in many countries is common and, until now, enforcement investigations targeting complex international schemes have been limited — corporations with significant business in Latin America would be wise to prepare for a new era of increased local enforcement.
Public corruption remains a reality in several of Latin America’s largest economies, and progress toward combating such corruption has proven slow. Transparency International’s global Corruption Perceptions Index 2013, which measured the perceived levels of public sector corruption in 177 countries and territories, ranked Brazil at No. 72 overall, lagging behind Uruguay (No. 19), Chile (No. 22) and Costa Rica (No. 49), but notably ahead of Argentina and Mexico (tied at No. 106). Both Chile and Mexico have taken initial steps to combat international public corruption and have become members of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), while non-members Argentina, Brazil and Colombia have also adopted the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention, a prerequisite to membership that requires signatories to criminalize bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions.