Marcílio Moreira of the Brazilian Public Ethics Commission details the nature of public ethics in 20th century Brazil and discusses the commission's structure and functionality. Moreira describes the commission as a sort of consulting board that works in the service of the president, with its unpaid members probing only ethical problems rather than addressing or investigating criminal matters. Moreira contends that the central obstacle that practically any government struggles to overcome is the tendency for private or special interests to overshadow those of the common good. In an attempt to curtail the level of influence that companies can have on members of government, particularly the legislature, the commission set up a well-enforced system of clear and robust rules to clarify and define ethical standards of behavior.
Case Study: Ingraining Honesty, Changing Norms: Government Ethics in Brazil, 1995-2004
At the time of this interview, Marcílio Moreira was a member of the Brazilian Public Ethics Commission. After his appointment in 2002, he intermittently served as the commission’s president. Moreira began his career in the foreign service in Washington. He spent nearly two decades at the financial group UniBanco, after which he was Brazil's ambassador to the United States. By 1991, he was appointed by President Collor as the minister of Economy, Finance and Planning. Moreira subsequently served as an international adviser for Merrill Lynch and on the board of a number of prominent businesses in Brazil.