Corruption is definitely not an evil that only plagues Brazil but absolutely all countries without exception, to a greater or lesser extent. The existence of corruptors presupposes the existence of corrupts and vice versa. Therefore, focusing on fighting corruption at both extremes is essential, otherwise the effort may be in vain.
And, just like a metastatic cancer, corruption does not remain limited to one organ, and can affect any part of the organism, whether in the Executive, Legislative, or Judiciary Branches, in any of the entities of the direct (Union, States, Municipalities, or Federal District) or indirect (agencies, public foundations, state-owned companies, government controlled private companies, or public consortia) public administration.
A non-governmental organization called Transparency International – created in Berlin, Germany, on May 4, 1993 –, began to develop criteria, which currently add up to 13 in total, to begin measuring the situation of corruption in each of the countries.
By these criteria, the results are extremely worrying, considering that, in the last decade, 86% of evaluated countries have stagnated or worsened their fight against corruption. And, unfortunately, Brazil is among them. Indeed, Brazil has always managed to remain below the world average throughout the decade, although close to it. Let's face it, as one of the 10 largest economies in the world, this is very little, not to say unacceptable.
It is important to point out that Brazil has tried to improve the fight against corruption, with the disclosure and investigation of scandals called Mensalão and Petrólão, later resulting in the largest anti-corruption operation ever carried out in the country, called Operação Lava Jato, mobilizing especially the Federal Police and the Prosecution Office.
However, given these historical facts, what is the country missing today to exercise a more effective fight against corruption? Although the issue is complex, and several adjustments are necessary, two measures would be decisive to radically change the current scenario and place Brazil in a select group of countries that raise awareness and efficiently fight corruption:
KEY MEASURES TO FIGHT CORRUPTION
1. Creation of an Anti-Corruption Agency, as a special autonomous agency, non-subordinated to the Government but linked thereto, whose autonomy would allow educational, preventive, and punitive actions, with less risk of political interference from the Executive Branch and vicissitudes in the idiosyncrasies of the members of the Judiciary.
2. Amendment to laws with the purpose of, when creating the Anti-Corruption Agency, providing it with sanctioning powers to assign penalties at the administrative level, including the confiscation of assets resulting, in an uncontroversial way, from acts of corruption.
With respect to the first measure above, history has already demonstrated how necessary the independence of a public entity is to combat corruption. Existing entities such as the Brazilian Office of the Comptroller General, which is an internal control body of the Brazilian Government, regardless of the ideology of the ruling party, suffer direct political interference from the head of the Executive Branch, while the Federal Court of Accounts suffers direct political interference from the legislative chambers. Similarly, the same occurs in States, Municipalities, and the Federal District.
The Prosecution Office, which should be an independent institution, as the intention behind the Anti-Corruption Agency, is managed by an Attorney General, designated by the head of the Executive Branch. The conclusion is logical and obvious… without the Anti-Corruption Agency, with predetermined criteria for selecting its directors and measures such as making it impossible to reassign the same individual once their term is over, Brazil lacks an entity independent enough to adopt the necessary measures to combat this evil.
Regarding the second measure above, reducing the feeling of impunity and lack of applicability of sanctions in the fight against corruption is essential. A very recent example, regardless of political ideologies, was the decision to hold public servants liable only in the intentional modality of crimes of misconduct in public office, going against, for example, the US Sarbannes-Oxley Act which, similarly, obliged presidents and financial directors of companies to sign their financial statements, to avoid the argument that they were unaware of any irregularity.
One does not need to be a jurist or Law student to conclude that the allegation of unawareness in the defense of a public servant who has committed an act of misconduct in public office will bar the application of the law, since the prosecution must prove the intention, that is, the intention to commit the crime.
When effective sanctions are applied, the scenario will certainly change – for example, the corruptor being permanently banned on bidding with the Federal Government, and the same applies for any companies in which the corruptor is directly or indirectly involved, including through relatives, in addition to detention; or the summary permanent dismissal of the public servant and detention for the corrupt. In addition to such sanctions, it is essential that the assets resulting from acts of corruption are confiscated, which is legally called expropriation.