Brazilian firm FeldensMadruga is one of the country’s leading investigations firms. It recently helped two multinationals resolve the Brazilian parts of multi-jurisdictional foreign bribery cases.
Founders Luciano Feldens and Antenor Madruga, who both have a background working in government, joined forces in 2013 to launch white-collar boutique FeldensMadruga. The pair’s shared interests have produced a firm that specialises in white-collar crime, related litigation, compliance and asset recovery work. Clients say the firm is a class act that instils confidence in the face of Brazil’s complex legal system.
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, member of the board of the Brazilian Financial Unit, and coordinator of the National Strategy for Combating Corruption and Money Laundering.
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.
He is among other lawyers at the firm with previous government experience. US and UK qualified consultant Ana Maria Belotto, who was nominated for GIR’s Women in Investigations survey in 2021, previously served as the general coordinator of asset recovery at the Brazilian Ministry of Justice.
Brasília-based consultant Claudia Chagas, meanwhile, served as the national secretary of justice and led the team that created the Brazilian Department for Asset Recovery and International Legal Cooperation.
Other names to know are partners Mariana Tumbiolo, Carlos Wehrs and Mario Azambuja. 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 has been singled out by a client in the past for being a tremendous team player with a strong intellect.
The firm branched into consultancy work in 2020 when several FeldensMadruga partners helped launch anti-money laundering compliance and asset recovery firm Zela in São Paulo. Tumbiolo serves as its CEO while Madruga chairs the board. Both remain in their roles at FeldensMadruga.
Over the past year, FeldensMadruga has enhanced its reputation as a leading firm for multinational companies subject to corruption probes by Brazilian and foreign authorities.
GIR reported in December that the firm acted for the US subsidiary of Geneva-based energy trading company Vitol in a $164 million multi-agency foreign bribery settlement with the US and Brazilian authorities. The company allegedly bribed public officials at Brazilian state energy company Petrobras for improper advantages when bidding for crude oil shipments.
FeldensMadruga acted on the Brazilian side of the resolution, where Vitol reached a civil settlement with Brazil’s Federal Prosecution Service (MPF) in which it agreed to disgorge $24.5 million in ill-gotten profits and pay $8.5 million in damages as well as a $12 million fine. Vitol has agreed to improve its compliance programme and to submit anti-money laundering and corruption risk reports to the MPF for two years.
In another big-ticket case, the firm acted for Scottish energy company Wood Group in a $177 million foreign bribery settlement with authorities in the UK, the US and Brazil over foreign bribery, GIR reported in June. The multi-country resolution resolved investigations into bribes paid by engineering company Amec Foster Wheeler, which Wood Group acquired in 2017, in five separate countries. In the Brazilian part of the settlement, which FeldensMadruga acted on, Wood Group agreed to pay a total of $17.5 million in settlements with the MPF, the Comptroller General of the Union and the Attorney General’s Office to resolve allegations of bribery of Petrobras officials between 2011 and 2014.
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, Portugal and Norway.
Rolls-Royce, Facebook, Airbnb and General Electric are among the names to have turned to the firm.
The firm acted in some of the earliest multi-jurisdictional bribery and corruption probes to touch Brazil.
It had a hand wrapping up a trilateral bribery investigation into UK engineering company Rolls-Royce with authorities in the US, the UK and Brazil, in 2017. The Ministry of Transparency and Comptroller General of the Union continues to investigate the case. GIR has reported that a proposed conclusion of the matter has been delayed several times.
Feldens represented one of the biggest individual clients in Brazil: former Odebrecht CEO 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 prosecutors, he was released in December 2017 to serve the rest of his sentence from home.
The construction company itself confessed to corruption and agreed to pay $2.6 billion in fines in settlements with US, Swiss and Brazilian authorities in 2016.
FeldensMadruga is a Brazilian firm specialized in the relationship between the State and private individuals, mainly legal entities. With an original focus on white-collar crimes criminal litigation, the firm has expanded its practice to general defense of sanctions from the state, not only in criminal matters, but including administrative and civil litigation. This results in a strategic approach in criminal, administrative and civil disputes.
The firm also has a strong Corporate Ethics and Compliance Practice, working directly with the litigation team in the negotiations of leniency and non-prosecution agreements and in the design and implementation of effective compliance programs with a focus on the prevention of money laundering and corruption.
With offices in Brasilia, Porto Alegre, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, FeldensMadruga is present in 60 jurisdictions through its membership of the Concillium Network, Roxin Alliance and the International Academy of Financial Crime Litigators, international networks of specialist lawyers in compliance and investigations, white-collar and financial crimes.
The Firm represents local and multinational clients from sectors such as financial & banking; insurance; oil & gas; medical & pharmaceutical; civil construction & infrastructure; marketing & advertisement; technology systems, among others.
One of the founding partners of FeldensMadruga, Antenor leading the firm’s criminal law, international law, and compliance practices.
Prior to joining private practice, he was a Federal Attorney, and held various positions at the Brazilian Government, such as National Secretary of Justice; Director of Assets Recovery and International Cooperation of the Ministry of Justice; Adjunct Attorney-General; Board Member of the Brazilian Financial Intelligence Unit (COAF) and coordinator of the National Strategy for Combating Corruption and Money Laundering (ENCCLA).
Antenor has worked in several significant multi-jurisdictional corporate crime cases while in public service and private practice.
He holds a doctorate from the University of São Paulo and an LLM from the Catholic University of São Paulo and is the author of several publications on International Law, Criminal Law and International Legal Cooperation.
He is currently also a member of the Board of Self-Regulation of the Brazilian Federation of Banks.
Luciano Feldens was a federal prosecutor from 1997 to 2009. After joining private practice, he worked as defense 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.
White-collar crime: Specialized in complex representation of corporate clients, the form works strategically to anticipate and respond to risks regarding the Brazilian legal environment for business in matters of white-collar crimes.
Corporate ethics and compliance: Our specialists work integrated with the criminal defense and civil enforcement experts, developing compliance programs, conducting internal investigations, negotiating global settlements and facilitating cooperation with government regulators in leniency and plea agreements.
Administrative Law: The complex Brazilian regulatory environment can result in serious collateral administrative sanctions. Our firm counts with a team of experts with experience and knowledge on the Brazilian state and its institutions. We provide a one-front strategy considering the global interests of our clients, assuring ethical and fair relations with government institutions.
Litigation (superior courts): Our office in Brasília has experienced litigation experts with experience in acting before the Superior Court of Justice, in matters of federal law and the Federal Supreme Court in Constitutional matters.
International law and international legal cooperation: International law is embedded in the firm’s DNA. Our team is composed of experts in the field of international law and legal cooperation and counts with attorneys with multijurisdictional certifications including attorneys admitted in the New York and California bars in the United States and a Solicitor registered in the Law Society of England and Wales.