After an aggressive grassroots campaign, in mid-2016, the Mexican government signaled substantial progress in its fight against corruption when it adopted a new anti-corruption program. The new legislation promised increased transparency and accountability of public officials and energized the international community about Mexico's commitment to fight its long-standing corruption problems. Since enactment, however, progress towards implementing the provisions of the new law has slowed, leaving many questions about its future unanswered.
Anti-Corruption Regime in Mexico
Mexico's anti-corruption enforcement regime (the "National Anti-Corruption System") was approved by President Peña Nieto on July 18, 2016. The National Anti-Corruption System, which will come into effect on July 19, 2017, provides for severe sanctions against individuals and entities that are found to have engaged in bribery, collusion, and influence peddling, among other acts. For instance, individuals face sanctions of up to twice the amount of the acquired benefits, temporary ineligibility to participate in procurement, leases, services or state-owned projects, and compensatory and/or punitive damages. Legal entities face similar sanctionsup to twice the amount of the benefitand could be deemed ineligible to participate in the aforementioned projects for up to 10 years. Entities could also be subject to suspension of activities, partnership dissolution, and compensatory and/or punitive damages. The National Anti-Corruption System offers partial defenses, such as the existence of a current compliance or integrity program that includes effective reporting and whistleblower protection tools. Entities may also receive credit for self-reporting misconduct and collaborating with government investigations.
Along with the promulgation of stringent sanctions, the National Anti-Corruption System also created the role of independent anti-corruption prosecutorthe first of its type in Mexico's historyto operate independently of the Mexican government. Importantly, National Anti-Corruption System is designed to enhance cooperation across federal, state, and municipal enforcement authorities and foreign authorities including the U.S. government.
Although the enforcement regime provides much needed transparency for a country riddled with corruption, we have yet to see the National Anti-Corruption System in action. Since its adoption nearly five months ago, there has been very little...