Brazil is a booming market for private investigators. There are specialists in virtually every aspect of investigation available in this vast South American nation, where the investigator workforce comprises not just native Brazilians but many former police and military operatives who have successfully transitioned into the lucrative detective trade. Investigators work throughout this sprawling country, ranging from the urban centres of major cities to the wild jungle regions where many indigenous people live.
One of the highest-profile investigations brazil investigator in recent times was Operation Car Wash, a corruption and money-laundering probe that led to the imprisonment of key political figures, including former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and wiped out billions of dollars from the balance sheets of some of Brazil’s biggest companies. It also dragged in international companies and other countries, resulting in investigations that continue to this day.
The operation was launched in March 2014 and initially focused on a group of corrupt money-launderers, known as “doleiros”, who operated small cash businesses such as petrol stations and car washes to launder the profits from crime. This eventually revealed a tangled web of illegal payments and kickbacks to politicians and Petrobras executives. The scandal would ultimately cost the company over $5bn, put a president and billionaires in jail and damage the reputation of some of the world’s largest companies.
Despite its enormous size and varying regional markets, Brazil has a very strong infrastructure for law enforcement, ensuring that criminal investigations are carried out effectively. In addition, the federal government has enacted legislation similar to the US whistleblower reward programmes, which makes it possible for businesspeople to claim financial rewards in exchange for information that is useful to the prevention, repression or clarification of crimes and administrative violations.
Brazil’s extensive co-operation with foreign governments is well documented and the country has several multilateral and bilateral cooperation agreements in place. This involves the sharing of information, the exchange of evidence, the transfer of convicted individuals and the freezing of assets.
As in other countries, Brazilian law requires that authorities have certain minimum levels of suspicion before they launch an investigation, but it is not necessary to have concrete proof of a crime to initiate a probe. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has established that it is not lawful to initiate an investigation on the basis of anonymous tips.
If a company in Brazil receives a request from a foreign regulator or law enforcement agency to conduct an internal investigation, the company must carefully consider how it will respond. The practical challenges of this process depend on the countries involved and the scope of any related agreements in place. This article examines the main issues that should be taken into account when responding to such requests.