Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

GIR 100 2018


26 October 2018

This boutique firm set up by two former prosecutors is taking advantage of the recent increased in enforcement activity by Brazilian authorities.

The Firm

Established in 2013 Brasília and Porto Alegre, FeldensMadruga has since extended its reach within Brazil, adding lawyers in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro alongside its original offices. 

Founders Luciano Feldens and Antenor Madruga, who both have a background working in government, in 2013 joined forces in private practice to launch white-collar boutique FeldensMadruga. The pair’s shared interests have produced a firm that specialises in white-collar crime, related litigation and compliance, mutual legal assistance and asset recovery work. Nowadays, the firm’s lawyers can often be found acting on international cases.

Madruga is listed in both Who’s Who Legal: Investigations and Who’s Who Legal: Business Crime Defence. He leads the firm’s Brasília office and the firm’s corporate compliance practice and, alongside Feldens, the firm’s white collar-crime practice. Madruga previously held several positions in Brasil’s federal government such as national secretary of justice, director of asset recovery, member of the board of the Brazilian Financial Unit, and coordinator of the National Strategy for Combating Corruption and Money Laundering.

The firm’s other founder, Feldens, is based in Porto Alegre. He served as a federal prosecutor for over a decade, specialising in financial crimes and money laundering cases. In private practice, he has represented clients in some of the major financial crime cases in Brazil.

Débora Poeta, the third partner of the firm, also based in Porto Alegre, is a white-collar crime and antitrust lawyer. Ana Belotto, a licensed New York lawyer, is a foreign law consultant in the firm’s compliance and investigations practice and acts on multi-jurisdictional cases with a US nexus, focusing on FCPA violations.

Recent events

The firm has assisted Norwegian law firm Selmer in conducting an internal investigation into Norwegian oil services company Sevan Marine. In April 2018 GIR reported that Sevan faced allegations that it had paid bribes to Brazil’s state-controlled oil company Petrobras to win contracts. The results of the internal investigation were passed on to Norway’s National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime, and to the Federal Prosecution Service in Brazil.

The firm is currently defending HStern, one of the largest jewellers in Brazil, in a Council for Financial Activities Control (COAF) investigation into money laundering. The firm has also represented HStern’s executives in a plea bargain agreement over the conduct. The firm negotiated for the executives to be able to carry out their mandated community service by running courses to educate the local community from their offices in Sao Cristovão, Rio de Janeiro.

FeldensMadruga was among the firms that negotiated a non-prosecution settlement between Brazilian construction company Carioca Engenharia and Brazil’s Federal Prosecution Service (MPF). As a result, the company was allowed to continue to obtain government contracts. The civil and criminal settlements signed with the public prosecutors and comptroller general were among the first of those reached during Operation Car Wash. The firm worked with Barbosa Müssnich & Aragão during the process.

In 2017, acting with Debevoise & Plimpton and Slaughter and May, the firm participated in the Brazilian part of the negotiation of parallel settlements between Rolls-Royce and Brazil’s Federal Prosecution Service, the US Department of Justice and the UK Serious Fraud Office. The British engine manufacturer had been accused of bribery to win contracts in multiple countries around the world. As part of the leniency agreement between Rolls-Royce and Brazil’s MPF, the company had to pay Brazilian authorities US$26 million, according to GIR’s reporting in January 2017. GIR has previously reported that FeldensMadruga also acts for Rolls-Royce in ongoing discussions with the country’s Ministry of Transparency and General Comptroller’s Office.


The firm has four offices in Brasil: Brasília, Porto Alegre, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.


Some of the big-name clients the firm works for include technology companies Facebook and Airbnb, engineering company Rolls-Royce and American electricity conglomerate General Electric. In the past the firm has worked for banks UBS and HSBC Brazil, Latin American fund GP Investments, food processing company Marfrig Global Foods, and the Brazilian Federation of Banks.

Track Record

Feldens has represented one of the biggest individual clients in Brazil: businessman Marcelo Odebrecht, who ran an enormous construction company and was accused by prosecutors of having paid bribes in exchange for contracts. In March 2016 he was sentenced to 19 years in prison for corruption, money laundering and conspiracy. But in December 2016 he struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors, allowing him to be released. He was freed from prison in December 2017 and will serve the rest of his sentence from home.

In 2016, construction and engineering company Odebrecht confessed to corruption and paid US$2.6 billion in fines in settlement with US, Swiss and Brazilian authorities. Prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol described the scandal as “worse than Watergate.”

FeldensMadruga has represented a number of major international financial institutions facing allegations of misconduct.

The firm helped London-based HSBC fulfil compliance obligations undertaken as part of the bank’s US$1.9 billion deferred prosecution with the US Department of Justice in 2012 for sanctions and money-laundering violations. At the time, the deal was the largest money-laundering settlement ever recorded in the US. FeldensMadruga carried out a review of the HSBC Brazil’s internal anti-money-laundering controls and compliance regime.

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