Antenor Madruga is recognised as a leading Brazilian lawyer in complex litigations and negotiations involving government criminal and administrative proceedings, particularly in multi-jurisdictional cases. A former federal attorney, he has served as a national secretary of justice; director of asset recovery and international legal cooperation at the Ministry of Justice; and member of the Financial Intelligence Unit, among other roles. His firm, FeldensMadruga, represents major Brazilian and foreign companies, financial institutions and individuals.
How has the market changed since you first started practising?
It has changed substantially. Criminal lawyers used to work in a quite segregated niche of practice, dealing mostly with individuals, and often limited to domestic problems. Nowadays, criminal law enforcement is a constant concern for companies, and the most important cases are contained in a single jurisdiction.
How have your previous experiences as a federal attorney helped you in your current practice?
It has helped me to have a better understanding of the rationale and priorities behind government actions.
What do you enjoy most about working in business crime defence?
It is certainly a very active and multidisciplinary practice, where cases are usually seen as top priorities by our clients. It is definitely not an area for those who enjoy routine and calm days.
What qualities make for an effective business crime defence lawyer?
First, it is essential to be proficient not only in criminal law, but also in other areas of law. An understanding of different law systems and foreign jurisdictions is also of the essence to develop an effective practice. It is fundamental to understand the rationale and priorities of the government actions.
What developments in your jurisdiction should foreign practitioners be following and why?
We have seen governments increasing their power to apply severe sanctions beyond the criminal law and court systems. Defence under administrative law and administrative government bodies is becoming a very important part of a business crime defence.
To what extent is the increasingly virtual nature of investigations in a covid-19 landscape making for a more efficient process? In what aspects is it falling short?
This “new normal” after covid-19 will certainly solidify virtual means of communication as a way to interact with the authorities. I am an optimist about the possibilities of this new environment, which includes advancement in forensics technology. However, it is also causing a physical distance between judges, law enforcement authorities and defendants, which, in my view, may contribute to more unfair persecutions and judgments.
What insights have you gained from working with a spectrum of organisations, including the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime?
The UN and other transnational bodies, such as the OECD, have done great work in promoting law enforcement beyond national boundaries. However, this advancement has been mostly influenced by this law enforcement perspective, with a deficient – almost non-existent – concern for individual rights. Take, for instance, the conventions that mandate state parties to criminalise the offence of bribery of a foreign official. Such mandate obviously generates a double jeopardy, as several parties may have jurisdiction over the same offence. Such call for multiple enforcements should be matched with strong rules to avoid double jeopardy.
In what direction would you like to steer your practice in the next five years?
FeldensMadruga is increasingly providing a wide range of services to clients that do business with the Brazilian government. Our firm fields a team with experience in the public sector, as former government attorneys and attorneys acting before government institutions. We understand the consequences related to being prosecuted and sanctioned by government institutions. We want to use this experience to assist our clients to conduct clean business with governments, free of illegal and reputational threats and of unfair competition.
We will also expand our anti-money laundering practice substantially to assist all clients in need of counsel in that field.