Transparency Internacional – Brazil6
1 “Retratos da Sociedade Brasileira: problemas e prioridades para 2016” [“Portraits of Brazilian Society: problems and priorities for 2016”], CNI indicators, year 5,
number 28, January 2016, Confederação Nacional da Indústria [Brazilian National Confederation of Industry]. Sample details: 2,002 interviews conducted in 143
municipalities. Period of the survey: December 4 to 7, 2015. The margin of error is estimated at 2% on the findings made on the survey sample. The confidence
interval used is that of 95%.
2 Brazil scored 43 points in 2012 and dropped to 40 points in 2016. Despite some improvement between 2015 (38 points) and 2016 (40 points), the
topic that best summarises the past few years, which coincide with the progress made by Operation Carwash and its outcomes, is that the perceptions
of corruption worsened. Full survey at: CORRUPTION PERCEPTIONS INDEX 2016. Available at:
perceptions_index_2016>. Accessed on: June 16, 2017.
3 A survey conducted by Instituto Ipsos verified that, for 67% of interviewees, corruption was the main motivation for street protests carried out in the
beginning of 2015. VALOR ECONÔMICO. Corrupção, e não impeachment, é motivo de protesto, diz pesquisa. Brasília, March 13, 2015. Available
. Accessed on: June 16, 2017.
4 ERNST & YOUNG. Government as best in class shareholder. 2010. Available at:
best_class_shareholder/$FILE/Government%20as%20in%20best%20class%20shareholder_FINAL.pdf>. Accessed on: May 6, 2017.
5 Between 1992 and 2016, the most frequent subject matters of the bills presented at Brazil’s Congress were: public bidding processes (17.9%); campaign financing
(11.2%); active and passive corruption (8.3%); administrative misconduct (7.6%); crimes against the public administration (7.3%); and unjust enrichment (5,5%).
MOHALLEM, M.; RAGAZZO, C. Diagnóstico institucional: primeiros passos para um plano nacional anticorrupção. Rio de Janeiro: Escola de Direito do Rio de
Janeiro da Fundação Getulio Vargas, 2017, p. 130. Available at:
. Accessed on: June 16, 2017.
The process of fighting corruption often leads
to paradoxical public perceptions – the larger the
revelations about corruption schemes, the more
frustrated the public becomes with the current
institutions. This was shown by the “Portraits of
Brazilian Society” survey, which identified corruption
as the main problem in Brazil for 2016, according
to 65% of the population1. Similarly, Transparency
International’s Corruption Perception Index indicates
that perceptions of corruption in Brazil have taken a
turn for the worse over the past five years, despite
this period seeming to be the most intense and
effective when it comes to counter corruption
schemes in the country’s history2.
Recent reactions by the public and institutions
have reflected the widespread sentiments
displayed in the unprecedented protests of a
few years back3.
At the centre of this troubled scenario, brought
to light by Operation Carwash (“Operação Lava Jato”
in Portuguese), we can find Brazil’s state-owned
enterprises (SOEs), especially Petrobras. The fact
that these companies, which are important reference
points for the Brazilian population, were the targets of
corruption schemes carried out over the last decades
has had an impact on Brazilian society. As a result of
the various institutional and legal changes that have
taken place in recent decades, it has also served
as a starting point for developing anti-corruption
mechanisms designed specifically for these entities.
This paper aims to contribute to this analysis.
The perception that SOEs are subject to
excessive political influence is pervasive in Brazilian
society. A survey conducted by Ernst & Young
revealed that 91% of Brazilians believe that state-
owned enterprises are overly influenced by politics.
This figure goes along with the results found in the
24 countries where the survey was conducted.
Nevertheless, 43% of Brazilians believe that
SOEs are better at providing services than private
companies, and “only” 60% said that SOEs are less
efficient than private ones. These numbers place
Brazilians among the biggest defenders of SOEs4.
Brazil’s Congress sought to respond, in its own
way, to the public perception of just how serious
corruption is with a record number of anti-corruption
legislation. In 2015 alone, more than 140 anti-
corruption-focused propositions were put forward
by federal representatives and senators, mainly
concerning regulations for public bidding processes,
campaign financing, active and passive corruption,
and crimes against public administration5.