Antenor Madruga is founding partner at FeldensMadruga, a premier law firm with leading market practices in criminal defence, anti-money laundering and anti-corruption compliance for businesses in Latin America. Antenor is recognised in Brazil and abroad as a leading white-collar lawyer with expertise in international law and multi-jurisdictional cases. Prior to joining private practice, he served as federal attorney from 1996 to 2007, holding several positions in federal government such as national secretary of justice, having been the first director and creator of the department of asset recovery and international cooperation at the Ministry of Justice. During this time, he led the Brazilian team in negotiations of mutual legal assistance treaties with Germany, Spain, China and Switzerland, among others.
Questions & Answers
Thought Leaders 2021 - Interview with Antenor Madruga
Describe your career to date.
My career was built in the public and private sectors. I also have a strong academic background through my activities as a researcher and professor. After graduating in law, I pursued a PhD in international law from the University of São Paulo, with visiting-researcher experience at the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) and the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law. In 1996, I was appointed as federal attorney; in 1998, I was put in charge of managing all cases of the Brazilian government before the foreign courts. At the time, I also worked in international money laundering and corruption cases: experience that I have carried throughout my career. In 2003, I became the first director of the department of assets recovery and international legal cooperation of the Ministry of Justice, and coordinator of the national strategy against money laundering. Later, I also acted as national secretary of justice, prior to leaving the government.
In 2007, I returned to private practice, joining BMA - Barbosa, Müssnich, Aragão and becoming head of its corporate ethics and white-collar crime practice group. In 2013, I left that firm and founded FeldensMadruga, with my partner Luciano Feldens, as well as with other highly skilled partners and associates.
What do you enjoy most about being a lawyer in your practice area?
Successfully obtaining legal and fair treatment for our clients, both companies and individuals, before government authorities, nationally and in a multi-jurisdictional context.
What is the most challenging case or transaction you have ever worked on and why?
Our firm represents several clients, including major Brazilian and multinational companies, in the Car Wash investigation. One of our clients, a multinational company from the energy sector, was the first to reach a multi-jurisdictional settlement involving the Brazilian federal prosecutors (MPF), the US Department of Justice and the UK Serious Fraud Office. The major challenge in this case was to coordinate the agreement between the three jurisdictions, guaranteeing that the client obtained a global resolution.
In a challenging extradition case, we successfully argued before the Brazilian Supreme Court that the judiciary of Venezuela lacked independence and was politically biased against our client.
What are the greatest challenges for lawyers in your practice area in your country this year?
We expect that the data and information gathered after six years of the Car Wash investigation will continue to generate cases. We will likely see an increase in regulatory actions, particularly in anti-money laundering and government procurement. Meanwhile, as there are several government authorities regulating and enforcing the law in our practice area, a challenge for lawyers will be to foster coordination among those agencies, avoiding concurrent proceedings.
How do you expect your practice to evolve over the next five years?
FeldensMadruga is increasingly providing a wide range of services to clients that do business with the Brazilian government. Our firm fields a team with experience in the public sector, both as former government attorneys and as attorneys acting before government institutions. We understand the consequences related to being prosecuted and sanctioned by government institutions. We want to use this experience to assist our clients to conduct clean business with governments, free of illegal and reputational threats and of unfair competition. We will also expand our anti-money laundering practice group substantially to assist clients in need of counsel in that field.
What do clients look for when selecting you as a lawyer?
We have a profound knowledge of how governments work. We understand how companies think. We comprehend how different jurisdictions function and interact. Integrity, discretion and dedication are core principles of our firm. My goal, and what I believe clients are looking for, is to offer our singular collective experience and skills as trusted advisers in the representation of our clients.
How would you like to see your law firm develop in the coming years?
We currently have a strong white-collar crime practice. We also act in regulatory matters in issues such as money laundering. We are now getting ready to launch a new public procurement practice. In the coming years we expect to further expand to other areas, including administrative law and regulation.
You have enjoyed a very distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?
I still have quite a lot to do in my private practice. I would like to build a wider platform where learned, experienced and devoted lawyers, aligned with our core principles, can develop their practices in all areas of administrative and government law. In the distant future, I think of having a chance to go back into government to contribute more closely to solve some of our country’s most difficult challenges, such as the terrible conditions of our prison system.