GIR 100 2020

FeldensMadruga

Professional notice

Solid, deliberate, highly-skilled, dependable and a cut above the rest – these are just some of the words clients have used to describe FeldensMadruga’s investigations lawyers.

The Firm

Founders Luciano Feldens and Antenor Madruga, who both have a background working in government, in 2013 joined forces 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 and asset recovery work. Fast forward to 2020, and the firm is going strong. Clients seek it out for its expertise and personalised approach and point to the firm’s selectiveness in the kind of cases it takes on as a particularly positive trait.

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 Brazil’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. One multinational client pointed out that Madruga enjoys a high level of credibility before prosecutors and internally before company executives, while also noting his ability to balance their priorities and meaningful contributions to the business’ overall legal strategy. 

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 lawyer in New York and the UK, 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 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations. She leads the firm’s internal investigations team.

Claudia Chagas joined the firm as a consultant after leaving her role as a federal prosecutor in 2017. She served as the national secretary of justice for over four years and led the team that created the Brazilian Department for Asset Recovery and International Legal Cooperation. She currently co-leads the government sanctions and administrative law practice with Madruga.

In 2019, the firm promoted Mariana Tumbiolo, Carlos Wehrs and Mario Azambuja to partner. They are based in in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Porto Alegre, respectively.

Tumbiolo is a criminal corporate law specialist and licensed to practise in the US. Wehrs and Azambuja focus on litigation. Wehrs was singled out by a client for being a tremendous team player with a strong intellect.

In August 2020, several FeldensMadruga partners helped launch consultancy firm Zela in São Paulo. Madruga said in an emailed statement at the time that it is the first consultancy in Brazil to focus on anti-money laundering compliance.

Zela also offers expertise in asset tracing and recovery. Tumbiolo will serve as its CEO while Madruga will chair the board. Both remain in their roles at FeldensMadruga.

Recent events

FeldensMadruga has worked on major Brazilian investigations, from the Mensalão vote-buying scandal to Operation Car Wash, as well as investigations into bribery payments to obtain favourable tax decisions (Operation Zelotes), and more. 

It continued to be active in Operation Car Wash matters, even as the government has signalled the massive bribery investigation’s end.

GIR has previously reported FeldensMadruga’s role in wrapping up a trilateral bribery investigation into engineering company Rolls-Royce with authorities in the US, the UK and Brazil, in 2017. The company has remained in ongoing discussions the country’s Ministry of Transparency and Comptroller General of the Union. GIR has reported that a proposed conclusion of the matter has been delayed several times, with the deadline recently pushed back to February 2021.

Network

The firm has four offices in Brazil: Brasília, Porto Alegre, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro. Over the last year, partners from the firm have worked across Brazil, as well as overseas in the UK, US, Switzerland and Spain.

Clients

Rolls-Royce, Facebook, Airbnb and General Electric are among the names to have turned to the firm.

Track record

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 could 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.

Feldens represented one of the biggest individual clients in Brazil: businessman Marcelo Odebrecht, who accused by prosecutors of having paid bribes in exchange for contracts and was sentenced to 19 years in prison for corruption, money laundering and conspiracy. After striking a plea deal with federal prosecutors he was released in December 2017 to serve the rest of his sentence from home.

The construction company itself confessed to corruption and paid $2.6 billion in fines in settlements with US, Swiss and Brazilian authorities in 2016.

FeldensMadruga is a Brazilian firm specialising in white collar-crime. The firm’s work goes beyond the traditional scope of criminal litigation, defending the needs and interests of clients in all circumstances facing potential sanctions from the state. This results in a strategic approach to criminal, administrative and civil disputes. The firm also advises on preventive anti-money laundering and anti-corruption, designing effective compliance programmes.

The firm’s name partners, Antenor Madruga and Luciano Feldens, both come from a law enforcement background.

Antenor Madruga

In the late 1990s, while still serving as federal attorney, and prior to joining private practice, Antenor Madruga played a pivotal role in promoting changes in anti-money laundering law enforcement and policy in Brazil. He coordinated and executed the Brazilian strategy in a cross-border litigation that ended with the conviction of former judge Nicolau dos Santos Neto – a groundbreaking case, not only for white-collar crime prosecution but also for cross-border litigation and international legal cooperation.

Madruga has a PhD from the University of São Paulo and a specialist degree in business law from the Catholic University of São Paulo. He is regarded by specialists as a visionary pioneer in the field of international legal cooperation. He led the team that founded the department of asset recovery and international legal cooperation at the Ministry of Justice, and initiated the National Strategy for Combating Corruption and Money Laundering (ENCCLA).

Luciano Feldens

Luciano Feldens was a federal prosecutor from 1997 to 2009. During that time, he led several emblematic white-collar crime and money-laundering cases before federal courts. After joining private practice, he worked as defence attorney in some of the most famous criminal cases in recent Brazilian history, such as that of banker Daniel Dantas in the well-known Operation Satiagraha; and that of marketing executive Duda Mendonça, who ran President Lula’s political campaign in 2002. He has a PhD from the University of Valladolid in Spain and has long served as a law professor at the Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul.

The combination of backgrounds and expertise from the firm’s name partners – a mix of cross-border litigation, international legal cooperation, criminal expertise and academic tradition – earned FeldensMadruga a prominent position in the Brazilian legal environment from its very beginnings in 2013. The firm has acted in important cases originating from Operation Car Wash, such as the defence of Marcelo Odebrecht, and negotiated plea bargain and leniency agreements for important global firms like Rolls-Royce. In this case there was coordination with foreign law firms and authorities to close the final deals.

With offices in Brasilia, Porto Alegre, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, FeldensMadruga is present in 60 jurisdictions through its alliances worlwide.

Practice areas

White-collar crime: We are specialised in complex representation of corporate clients, working strategically to anticipate and respond to risks regarding the Brazilian legal environment for business in matters of white-collar crime.

Corporate ethics and compliance: Our specialists are integrated with criminal defence and civil enforcement experts to develop compliance programmes, conduct internal investigations, negotiate global settlements and facilitate cooperation with government regulators in leniency and plea bargain agreements.

Administrative proceedings: The complex Brazilian regulatory environment, especially in banking and financing, can result in serious collateral administrative sanctions related to criminal prosecutions. We provide a one-front strategy that considers the global interests of our clients.

Litigation (higher courts): The nature of the Brazilian legal system allows many different proceedings to reach the superior courts such as the Superior Court of Justice (STJ) and the Supreme Federal Court (STF). Our office in Brasilia has litigation experts with experience in acting before our higher courts.

International law and international legal cooperation: International law is in the DNA of our firm and originates from the background of founding partner Antenor Madruga. Our team comprises experts in the field of international law and legal cooperation. The practice also works in coordination with other areas of the firm related to transnational litigations.

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