Brazil to monitor its multinational firms for corruption abroad
By Anthony Boadle
BRASILIA Oct 23 (Reuters) - Brazil has started to watch its multinational companies for corrupt practices they might commit in other countries in the wake of a massive bribery scandal at home, the nation's top anti-corruption official told Reuters.
Six years after encouraging homegrown conglomerates to expand beyond Brazil with cheap credit and eased regulatory rules, the government is now moving to ensure they are complying with international transparency and corporate governance standards.
Brazil Comptroller General Valdir Simão said his office, known as the CGU, has begun to gather information on Brazilian firms operating abroad and is in talks with U.S. authorities to enter a cooperation agreement to fight corporate corruption.
"We are drawing up a map of where Brazilian companies are present, in which markets and what economic activities, to identify the areas of most risk and decide which countries to sign bilateral agreements with," Simão told Reuters in an interview this week.
Brazilian authorities are already exchanging information with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the investigation of the bribery scandal that has engulfed state-run oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, he said.
Brazilian companies rapidly expanded overseas in recent years, buying foreign rivals in the meat, beer and mining sectors, propelled by a boom in the world's seventh-largest economy and low interest loans from Brazil's development bank, BNDES. They also enjoyed regulatory leniency at home that allowed them to expand and consolidate without facing antitrust issues in Brazil.
The CGU is preparing to deal with cases of international bribery that might involve Brazilian companies in other countries, Simão said.
A pact with the United States is vital even if companies are not based there because most international business is conducted in U.S. dollars and could be under U.S. jurisdiction, he added. Continuación...