Working Paper 2014/1 (Global Administrative Law Series)

Transnational Anti-Corruption Law in Action: Cases from Argentina and Brazil

Kevin E. Davis, Guillermo Jorge, and Maíra Rocha Machado

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Debates over whether transnational and international legal institutions are fair, effective or legitimate responses to corruption of local public officials have an important empirical dimension. We use case studies to examine the claim that foreign legal institutions serve as fair, effective and legitimate complements to local anti-corruption institutions. We call this set of claims the “institutional complementarity theory”. The first case study centers on proceedings concerning bribes paid by subsidiaries of Siemens AG, a German company, to obtain and retain a contract to provide national identity cards—among other things—for the Argentine government. The second case study examines events stemming from overbilling in the construction of a courthouse in Brazil. Analysis of these cases suggests that the institutional complementary theory has a great deal of traction. At the same time, our findings suggest that local institutions may have greater potential, and foreign institutions may have more limited potential, than the theory assumes.