Corruption, embezzlement, fraud, these are all characteristics which exist everywhere.  It is regrettably the way human nature functions, whether we like it or not.  What successful economies do is keep it to a minimum.  No one has ever eliminated any of that stuff.

Alan Greenspan

BACKGROUND

No one knows when a government official was first bribed, but as far back as 1754 B.C. the Code of Hammurabi prohibited the practice.  As for the U.S., the first Congress passed the Federal Crimes Act which prohibited some forms of Bribery.  Traditionally bribery laws around the globe looked inward – at the subordination of domestic officials.  Virtually no attention was paid to another form of bribery – the citizens of one country bribing the officials of another to obtain business or other improper benefit.  Indeed, such practice was not only ignored, but often condoned by granting tax deductions for such payments.

Fast forward to 1977, when the U.S. Congress, in the wake of embarrassing revelations during the Watergate hearings, enacted the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”).  In essence, the FCPA prohibits U.S. Persons from corruptly giving or promising anything of value to foreign governmental officials (broadly defined) in order to obtain business or other unfair advantage.  It casts a wider enforcement net by requiring covered Persons to keep accurate books and records and reliable auditing systems.  At first, there was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth by U.S. companies who claimed the FCPA would place them at a great disadvantage against less scrupulous foreign competitors.  Over time, however, many such critics learned to live with its provisions and even laud its purpose and cite its benefits.

For decades, the U.S. fought its anti-corruption and bribery (“ABC”) crusade alone.  Through pressure from the U.S., the OECD adopted the Anti-Bribery Convention in 1999 (“OECD Convention”), which requires member states to enact laws prohibiting bribery of foreign officials by their nationals (“ABC Laws”).  The Convention spawned ABC Laws, most notably the U.K. Bribery Law.  This Law goes beyond the FCPA by (i) prohibiting private bribery; (ii) extending vicarious liability, and (iii) specifically prohibiting “facilitating payments”.  Not to be outshined, many non-OECD countries significantly revamped their domestic corruption laws.[1]


Continue Reading The ABCs of Anti-Corruption and Bribery Law: What Preceded Brazil’s “Operation Car Wash” and What Comes Next?

Another amendment to the Hydrocarbons Law has been approved, ending the power of the Energy Regulatory Commission to enforce asymmetric regulation in the hydrocarbon, petroleum products and petrochemical markets.  The Legal Update at the link below explains the scope and implications of such proposed amendment.

https://www.mayerbrown.com/en/perspectives-events/publications/2021/04/mexico-another-amendment-to-hydrocarbons-law-would-eliminate-asymmetric-regulation-for-pemex?utm_source=vuture&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign={vx:campaign%20name}

The current government launched an attack against the electricity legal framework established by its predecessor. The new framework reflects a major change in policy concerning the participation of the private sector in Mexico’s electricity industry, which could endanger billions of dollars in investments, the creation of thousands of jobs and could result in the emission

On February 23, 2021, the House of Representatives discussed and approved the draft of the Amendment of the Electricity Industry Law proposed by Mexico President López Obrador with a total of 304 votes. One of the most relevant features of the Amendment is the modification of the dispatch order, disregarding economic efficiency mechanics, which will

A Mexican Court issued a provisional suspension in an amparo proceeding of the new hydrocarbons and fuels import and export rules enacted by the Ministry of Energy on December 26, 2020. As a result, the permitting regulation for the import and export of hydrocarbons and petroleum products originally published by the Ministry of Energy on

The electricity industry in Mexico is under stress. The President of Mexico has proposed amendments to the Electricity Industry Law that could result in the undoing of the energy reform that permitted private investment in the power market. In parallel, the Mexican Supreme Court issued a decision rejecting a number of provisions of the Ministry

In a speech on 24 November 1992, marking her Ruby Jubilee on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II said, “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an annus horribilis.”

Annus horribilis. This is a moniker that oil and gas insiders might well apply to 2020 given the disastrous effects on the industry from Covid-19 pandemic (“Pandemic”) and its accompanying recession which brought a precipitous fall in demand and price. Indeed, in May the price of crude oil briefly went negative for the first time in history. This was followed by massive layoffs across the board and sharply curbed investments in planned and ongoing projects. Several major oil companies announced profound changes in their long-range focus from hydrocarbons to greener energy.

Brazil’s oil and gas industry was by no means immune from Covid-19´s fallout. In a June 29 communique, the Brazilian Petroleum Institute (“IBP”) predicted that the negative effects of the pandemic would last through the end of 2021. In addition, the pandemic returned Brazil to recession after three years of modest recovery. Despite this adversity, the Brazilian oil and gas sector, led by a proactive National Petroleum Agency (“ANP”), managed to largely maintain focus on long-term industry goals, benefiting from certain short-term regulatory relief discussed below.


Continue Reading When the Going Gets Tough the Tough get Going: Brazil Oil & Gas Thrives Despite the Pandemic

2020 was a fascinating year for all lawyers in the global oil & gas sector.

Over the year we had some brilliant speakers leading discussions with industry lawyers through our oil & gas lawyers’ forum – click on this link to see what we discussed.

Our sessions usually take place on Wednesday mornings (UK