In 2017, Brazil’s president faced impeachment proposals for allegedly receiving money from a businessman in exchange for influencing a decision of the Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Econômica (Cade), the Brazilian competition authority. But, considering that Cade is an independent agency with a reputation for transparency, how may politicians influence antitrust enforcement? By analysing the responses given to a questionnaire of mine by anonymous former Cade commissioners, as well as other reports related to political influence on the agency and records from Congress, Cade, and other institutions, this article will examine the channels of political influence on Cade. First, I examine channels of democratic control, such as the appointment process. Secondly, by discussing those situations in which politicians approach the agency, I observe that, even in the absence of an explicit promise or threat, contact from politicians bears a special weight for Cade’s officers. I argue that, regardless of conclusive evidence that political contact or pressure has actually impacted Cade’s enforcement, public confidence in the agency might be harmed when there is the appearance that it has done so. Therefore, the appropriateness of increased transparency surrounding meetings between elected politicians and Cade’s officers is a matter for consideration.
Friday, September 11, 2020