Corporate criminal liability in South America

10 minute read

Efforts to fight corporate corruption in South America have taken many forms. As in other regions, government weapons include open contracting and public procurement transparency rules; disclosure of assets and wealth and business interest disclosures; whistleblower protections; and corporate criminal liability. The imposition of criminal liability on business organizations and individuals for offenses committed within their operations represents a change from a historical lack of judicial oversight. This new focus poses a risk to those doing business in South America. In this article, we will provide an overview of the criminal liability of legal entities in South American countries, considering nation-specific legislation as well as Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) cases in the United States (US).

Following a decade of relatively constant growth, direct investment (DI) in South America in 2021 was over $260 billion.[1] At the same time, individual fines to corporations for violating South American anticorruption laws have sometimes been millions or billions of dollars. In one case, a Brazilian-based building company was fined $2.6 billion for a bribery scheme involving government officials from 12 Latin American and African countries.[2]

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