OECD group leader says rising corruption in Brazil contributes to worsening economy

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The increase in corruption in Brazil contributes to the worsening of the country’s economy, said on Thursday (4) Slovenian Drago Kos, head of the anti-bribery group of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), the so-called club of rich nations .

At an event promoted by the Fernando Henrique Cardoso Foundation and Transparency International, the OECD anti-corruption sheriff was also skeptical about Brazil’s entry into the entity in the short term, comparing the country to a “bad student”.

“The criteria of the member states [para aceitar novos membros na OCDE] have become stricter recently, we really don’t want to have bad students in the class. We already have a sufficient number of bad students, we don’t need another one,” said Kos, asked about the possibility of Brazil starting its OECD entry process next year.

Accession to the OECD is one of the priorities of the Bolsonaro government, as it would act as a kind of seal of quality for investors, since the countries that join the entity must comply with a series of requirements and quality standards in public policies.

Brazil started the accession process in 2017, and obtained support from former US President Donald Trump. But the European Union insists that Eastern European candidates, such as Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia, have priority and be admitted before Brazil, Argentina and Peru.

In addition, the Bolsonaro administration’s environmental policy and the OECD’s perception of the country’s weakening fight against corruption have become obstacles to accession, which also faces great resistance from Democratic lawmakers in the US.

Earlier this year, the OECD, for the first time, created a working group especially dedicated to monitoring corruption in Brazil. The organization cited concern about the “surprising” end of the Lava Jato, the use of the law against abuse of authority and the difficulties in sharing information from financial agencies for investigations, as revealed by BBC Brasil.

Apprehensions have only increased, says Drago Kos. “I’m worried about Brazil,” said the Slovenian.

“Brazil was a typical case of a highly corrupt country, which exploded in a positive sense, proving, with Lava Jato, that it would be willing to deal with even the most difficult cases of corruption.”

According to him, this “enthusiasm in the fight against corruption” seems to be fading, given recent developments. He specifically cited the proposed changes to the National Council of Public Prosecutors, which could weaken the agency’s power.

“The amount of problems in Brazil is increasing: the latest were the proposed changes to the superior council of the Public Ministry, in addition to accusations of corruption involving important politicians in the country.”

“If you asked me three or four years ago about fighting corruption in Brazil, I would have a very simple answer: Brazil is one of the best, it has proven that it can go from zero in the fight against corruption to 100% and that could be said about every institution in the country. Now, there are only a few individuals and one or two institutions engaged in fighting corruption.”

The head of the OECD group warned that the increase in corruption has devastating effects on the economy, and this will also happen in Brazil. “It may not be that visible, because you are also dealing with the consequences of the pandemic, but the increase in corruption in Brazil plays a role in the worsening of the Brazilian economic situation.”

Brazil faces accumulated inflation above 10% and growth projections for 2022 are already below 1%.

Asked about the possibility of Brazil starting access to the OECD next year, he said it is impossible, because of the necessary procedures for the process. “We will have to wait a few more years for the entry of Brazil,” he said.

“I’ve seen countries with fewer problems, and less important problems, which were barred. But I’ve seen countries with bigger problems than Brazil that receive the green light. It depends on the member states,” said Kos.

“But member state criteria have become stricter recently, we really don’t want to have bad students in the class. We already have enough bad students, we don’t need another one.”

Asked by the moderator, the director general of Fundação FHC, Sérgio Fausto, if the abuses of Lava Jato, such as the indiscriminate use of winning whistleblowing, were one of the causes of the setback in the fight against corruption, Kos said: “This always happens, when there is a very efficient institution in the fight against corruption, the empire, that is, the corrupt ones counterattack. In Romania something very similar happened,” he said.

He said he expects police, judges and prosecutors who fight corruption to respect the law 100 percent of the time. But he said that, for the time being, he has only heard rumors, and he will wait for the investigations to be completed.

“I’ve seen communications between judges and prosecutors, which can be perceived as not very ethical, but even so, I don’t think that’s a strong enough argument to say that the whole process [da Lava Jato] it was corrupt and judges and prosecutors were breaking the law and abusing their power. I think we need to wait for more concrete elements.”

Chile, Mexico and Colombia are the only countries in Latin America that have managed to join the OECD.

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