The Brazilian Institute of Asset Recovery (Instituto Brasileiro de Rastreamento de Ativos, or IBRA) recently held its inaugural event.
The event — called the International Seminar on Tracking Assets to Combat Fraud and Corruption — took place in São Paulo on October 26, 2018.
The invitation-only seminar drew a much larger crowd than expected — more than 200 attendees. These included several justices of the Superior Court of Justice (Brazil’s top court in civil and criminal matters), appellate, trial and bankruptcy court judges, prosecutors, practicing lawyers, bankruptcy trustees, academics, and others.
The five panels centered on ex parte investigations and transnational tracing of assets; reversal of the burden of proof; asset tracking in judicial recovery processes; mechanisms of prevention of fraud and corruption, and conflicts between criminal and bankruptcy proceedings.
In addition to Brazilian experts, the panels included speakers from the British Virgin Islands, Jersey, Switzerland, UK, and United States. The author was honored to deliver the keynote speech representing the International Anti-Corruption Academy or IACA (Austria).
Event-organizer IBRA is an exciting addition to the already very active Brazilian anti-corruption landscape. The group was created by Brazilian lawyers — Rodrigo Kaysserlian (Krikor Kaysserlian Advogados), Renato Capanema (the Ministry of Transparency, Supervision and Control), Andre Rocha (EXM Partners), and others.
The idea for IBRA originated with Rodrigo Kaysserlian, a lawyer working primarily on asset recovery in bankruptcy cases, during one of his IACA classes in the Master in Anti-Corruption Studies program at the IACA. He immediately shared the idea with his classmate, Mr. Capanema.
Fast forward, in less than a year, the new Institute opened its doors with a strong support of several law firms and other organizations, and the blessing of a number of prominent persons in the judiciary, government and the legal community.
Asset recovery is a major issue in Brazil. According to Mr. Capanema, there are $1.5 billion in Brazilian assets currently restrained abroad, and bringing it back is a major challenge. Unsurprisingly, many discussions focused on bankruptcy cases (including cross-border insolvency): 88 percent of the Brazilian Chapter 11 cases are filed in Sao Paulo.
Corruption and fraud played a prominent role also, as did the topics of removing incentives for such conduct through aligning interests of the public and private sectors and civil society, prevention, compliance, and capacity building. The issues of the offshore havens and beneficial ownership were discussed as well, with speakers from the BVI, Jersey and Switzerland sharing the new developments in their jurisdictions.
IBRA will focus on raising awareness, disseminating knowledge and leading efforts to improve Brazilian legislation related to asset recovery. Justice Carlos Fernando Mathias of the Superior Court of Justice summed it this way: “IBRA was born victorious because it has the strength of the great young people as well as the wisdom of the older professionals behind it.”
And nothing can beat the joy and pride of an educator who sees her former students succeed professionally and pursue a very meaningful endeavor to make this world a better place.
Elena Helmer is an Associate Professor and Senior Expert at the International Anti-Corruption Academy.