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Smith Brandon International has years of experience working in Brazil, and a broad network of investigators in the country. Many of our clients have asked us to help them with expanding their business in Brazil and we have been happy to help them avoid risks to keep their plans on track. We keep a close eye on developments in Brazil so we can be prepared for anything our clients might need. One huge aspect of life in Brazil is professional soccer (football), and with the FIFA 2018 World Cup coming up, Brazilian excitement for the global sport is at a fever pitch. That’s why we were particularly interested in recent events that combine both Brazil’s favorite sport and our ongoing monitoring of anti-corruption efforts.

Recently, the governing body of international soccer, FIFA, banned the head of the Brazilian football federation for life from involvement in professional soccer at the national or international level. The primary allegations against Marco Polo Del Nero are that he took bribes in exchange for awarding contracts to media and marketing companies.

The FIFA ethics committee said that Del Nero had violated multiple rules related to bribery and corruption, as well as rules related to conflicts of interest, loyalty, and general rules of conduct. The ban comes with a fine of CHF (Swiss Francs) 1 million (Approximately US $ 1 million).

In its statement FIFA said:

The investigation against Mr. Del Nero was opened on 23 November 2015 and referred, inter alia, to schemes in which he received bribes in exchange for his role in awarding contracts to companies for the media and marketing rights to various football tournaments, including the CONMEBOL Copa América, the CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores and the CBF Copa do Brasil.

This ban is only the latest chapter in a long saga of corruption allegations at the top of Brazil’s soccer program, and at FIFA more generally. The FIFA investigation that led to the ban was opened in November of 2015 after the May 2015 arrests of over 40 soccer and marketing officials from around the world who were at a FIFA meeting in Zurich. Several, including other high level officials from South America, have already been found guilty. At the time Del Nero fled Zurich. Months later, in December of 2015 US Prosecutors unsealed an indictment of Del Nero after a second round of arrests. Brazil rarely extradites its citizens and it is unlikely that Del Nero will be extradited to the United States to face corruption charges there. What, if any, further consequences he might face in Brazil is an open question.

For his part Del Nero has denied the charges and released a statement through his lawyers saying: “Mr. Del Nero will appeal the decision and has the conviction that the punishment in a first instance will be reformed after the analysis of a court that is independent and not a subject of external interferences.”

Corruption in international sport is nothing new, though the fact that it is being investigated aggressively and action is being taken a positive development. It remains to be seen what if anything will be done in Brazil on these charges, but as we’ve talked about before, Brazil has been taking corruption seriously lately.

As a growing economic power Brazil represents a tremendous business opportunity for businesses of all types and sizes. However, expanding into a new country can be dangerous to your business if you aren’t careful. Smith Brandon International has years of experience in Brazil and a broad network of investigators in the country. Our President, Gene Smith, spent years living in Brazil and is a fluent Portuguese speaker. We offer many services to companies who want to work in Brazil including: Due Diligence, Political Risk Assessments, Corporate Investigations, Security Assessments, help with FCPA compliance, and a wide range of other services. Call Smith Brandon International today to help safely guide your business to success in Brazil, or anywhere else in the world!

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