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Rio 2016: Who watches the watchmen?

Conselheiro Thiers Montebello, President of the Tribunal de Contas for the Municipality of Rio de JanieroConselheiro Thiers Montebello is a busy man. He is the President of the Tribunal de Contas for the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro (TCMRJ). Established in 1980, the TCMRJ is one of two municipal auditing tribunals in all of Brazil. It is responsible for monitoring projects executed by the City of Rio de Janeiro that are funded from the municipal treasury or through public-private partnerships.

The TCMRJ monitors activities by analyzing construction bidding documents before the execution of the contract and during inspections, and also examines the rendering of accounts. The body is really the unsung hero in compliance and transparency in the realms of enforcement of government contracts, working against the culture of bribery and corruption in large scale contracts in Rio de Janeiro.

Montebello has been there for much of the way. He was elected President of the body in August of 2001.

During a sit-down with three University of Richmond School of Law students, Montebello stressed the importance of the Olympics as a time to shine for Rio de Janeiro under the world spotlight. He also impressed upon the group the sheer volume of work his court undertakes.

In addition to its regular oversight (including over 400 schools, over 50 hospitals, and numerous infrastructure development projects), it oversees compliance for the Olympic renovation of the BRT, LRT, roads, bus lanes, the Gloria Marina, new bleachers for the Sambadrome, redevelopment of the João Havelange Olympic Stadium, Construction of the Center for International Broadcasting, the Olympic Training Center, the Maria Lenk Waterpark, and the Athletes village.

The project is immense; however, the TCMRJ has not faltered in its duties to the people and continues to think about the long run implications of the Games. Though the games will last for just one summer, the TCMRJ’s goal is to use the Olympics as a conduit to make the lives of Rio’s long term residents better. Montebello is confident  the city will deliver a product that the world has never been seen before. 

While the national spotlight is on the Petrobras scandal and calls for President Dilma Rousseff’s resignation, Thiers Montebello is quietly chipping away at corruption and ensuring compliance for Latin America’s first Olympic Games.


Andy Spalding is a Senior Editor of the FCPA Blog and Assistant Professor at the University of Richmond School of Law.

Tyler Klink is a second-year law student at the University of Richmond, where he works with the Carrico Center for Pro Bono Services. He received his B.A. in Political Science from Ohio University and is the past Director of Leadership Programming at the American Leadership Academy in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.                 

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  1. Curiously, The Brazilian Constitution of 1988 prohibited the constitution of auditing tribunals on a municipal level but it did not extinguish those already existing which were of the capital cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. With the exceptions of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, all other municipalities have their administrative costs and expenditures judged by their respective State auditing tribunals. In São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, they are judged by the Camara dos Vereadores, the municipal legislative body. The auditing tribunas exist on state and federal levels and are an appendage to the Legislative body. In 2001 a CPI (Parlimentary Commission of Inquery) was opened regarding the existing municipal auditing tribunals, the reason at the time was that they were considered more costly than they were effective, there were a series of irregularities, there were excessive salaries, a general lack of transparency with murky expenses and they suffered from nepotism.

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