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An introduction to Brazil's new whistleblower protection law

Ana Paula Barcellos ( is aFull Constitutional Law Professor at Rio de Janeiro State University in Brazil; a Brazilian Lawyer and Consultant Partner at BFBM Advogados Associados; and a foreign legal consultant in New York and Massachusetts, USA.

Countries without a whistleblower protection legislative framework are a weak link in the chain of efforts against global corruption. Until 2019, Brazil was such a country. Although Brazil had provisions on leniency agreements offering benefits to people willing to cooperate who were directly involved in corrupt practices—widely used in the Operation Car Wash, for instance—there was no whistleblower protection law. This legal scenario recently changed. Article 15 of Federal Law 13.964, 12.24.2019[1] (Anticrime Law), now provides a set of protections and incentives to whistleblowers reporting criminal activity and administrative misconduct.

The new Brazilian Anticrime Law applies to whistleblowers reporting general public corruption and any fraud related to government procurement and contracts, government-owned companies, and government-funded programs. But it also applies, more broadly, to criminal activities and administrative misconduct harming what the law identifies as “public interest.”

Brazil is a highly regulated country with a vast state bureaucracy in charge of most of what one can consider to be within the public interest; therefore, the two concepts—public corruption and illegal activities harmful to the public interest—will probably overlap in most cases. However, detrimental to the public interest is a broader concept than corrupt practices, which may expand the scope of the new law’s application.

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