At the beginning of August, as CGU’s Normative Ordinance no. 19/2022 (“Ordinance”) came into effect, a new negotiating instrument was created in the proceedings initiated or sought by the Comptroller General of the Union (CGU): the early trial of merit. This instrument can be used by companies investigated for harmful acts committed against the federal or foreign public administration, pursuant to Law no. 12,846/2013.
The early judgment of merit is triggered by a company’s request directed to the Federal Government Disciplinary Board (CRG), containing the admission of objective responsibility for the practice of the investigated acts and the presentation of evidence and a detailed report of what is known. In addition, the application shall contain a commitment to:
(i) reimburse the amounts, corresponding to the damage it has caused;
(ii) lose the advantage received, when possible to be estimated;
(iii) pay the amount of the fine, provided for in Law no. 12,846/2013;
(iv) respond to requests for information, concerning the facts of the case, which are known by the company;
(v) waiving the presentation of a defense; and
(vi) withdrawing lawsuits, concerning the CGU’s administrative procedure.
The analysis of the request is discretionally made by the CRG, which may reject the proposal or agree to the request. In case of agreement, the CRG will prepare a final report, with the recommendation of an early trial of the case. Once the report is completed and the requirements are met, a Minister of the CGU will conduct the early trial of the merit.
Unlike the leniency agreements provided for in Law no. 12,846/2013, the request for an early trial does not require the collaborator to be the first company to express its interest in cooperating with the authority (art. 16, § 1st, I, of Law no. 12,846/2013). Indeed, the Ordinance provides that the request for an early trial will not be applied only: (i) to proceedings initiated against the same legal entities within three years of the anticipated judgement of a first infraction; and (ii) when the leniency agreement is still available.
In the cases of proceedings already initiated, but not yet judged, the company must request an early trial within 60 days of the entry into effect of the Ordinance, provided that the statute of limitations period of the investigated infractions is not consummated within this same period.
The benefits between leniency and early judgment are also distinct. In leniency, the beneficiaries can obtain a fine reduction, calculated by up to 2/3, beyond exemption from sanctions that prevent contracting with the government. On the other hand, early judgment offers only the right to grant mitigating measures, in regards to the fine, computed from the moment in which the proposal is offered, besides mitigating sanctions that prevent contracting with the government. In both cases, employees have the benefit of exemption from the extraordinary publication of the conviction.