Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of corporations across the G20 have experienced an uptick in investigations, according to the 2021 FTI Consulting Resilience Barometer®. More than 70% faced scrutiny on financial practices, 69% on regulatory compliance and 70% on their products or services. In Brazil, corporations have struggled with fraud and corruption and the damages that can result following a significant violation. In parallel, the data privacy authority in Brazil is already launching investigations under its General Data Protection Law, Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados (LGPD), and in August, will assume its provisions to issue fines. Antonio Gesteira recently joined FTI Technology as a Senior Managing Director to expand the firm’s ability to respond to these developments and help clients in Brazil with their regulatory, e-discovery and data-related challenges. Antonio recently sat down for a Q&A to discuss the market and his new role.
Antonio, please share a bit about your background and why you decided to join FTI Technology.
I’ve spent roughly 20 years in consulting across information security, digital forensics, e-discovery and investigations, mostly with Big Four firms. In the early 2000s, e-discovery and the process of data collection were new concepts in Brazil, and I was one of the early pioneers who helped establish technology expertise to address data challenges in legal and regulatory matters. In 2010 I recognized the need to further expand the use of technology for investigations and moved into digital forensics to create the first forensic technology lab in the region. I saw the practice really begin to pick up momentum after the Anti-Corruption Law was passed in 2014 and have since been involved in leading hundreds of these types of matters.
FTI Consulting has a strong global brand and superior cross-border capabilities across the firm. The Technology segment is state-of-the-art among consulting firms in terms of its use and implementation of technology. I was drawn to working with the company given the international reach and that technology is part of its DNA. I think it’s very powerful that we are positioned to embed advanced technology and technology-enabled workflows into the solutions we provide to clients.
You will be focused on building up the Technology segment in Brazil. What do you see as the biggest needs and opportunities there? What sets FTI Technology apart in the region?
Unlike the U.S., where regulators and companies often negotiate and cooperate during an investigation, in Brazil there is a lack of coordination between the agencies and the companies under investigation. This makes it much more difficult for companies to gain any kind of leniency agreement. At the same time, many companies are struggling to keep corruption and fraudulent activities under control, so they are at a high risk of investigation under Brazil’s Anti-Corruption Law. In many cases, the cost of investigations and the penalties handed down from regulators are so severe that companies are forced to shut down. This is driving an increased interest in and need for improved governance, risk and compliance programs and more efficient investigations methodologies. Organizations in Brazil need to be able to strengthen their prevention of corruption and more efficiently investigate potential violations before they become fatal to the business.
FTI Technology has a broad vision of the tools available for these purposes across the entire lifecycle of an investigation or e-discovery matter—in reacting to unexpected issues and helping to proactively mitigate risk. We know how to optimize data collection, implement AI to detect potential problems and apply analytics to quickly understand the facts of a case.
In addition to talking about the increase in regulatory challenges, you’ve also mentioned a change in the nature of “defensible” investigations in Brazil. Can you explain that trend and how you see it playing out in the coming year?
In Brazil, a defensible approach is now part of the attorneys’ responsibilities to clients. Regulators here have recognized the ability for law firms to create or produce their own reports and defense using the findings of digital forensics experts. So, rather than organizations waiting for law enforcement to mount a case or conduct a raid, as has been the traditional approach, organizations are now permitted to preserve data proactively and review the evidence to prepare a defense even before an incident has been formalized. Put simply, it’s about understanding your data ahead of time, so you are ready to respond in the event of an unplanned government action.
How has COVID-19 impacted e-discovery and investigations in Brazil? Are clients experiencing an increase in matters, new challenges relating to remote workflows or other difficulties?
It’s common after a crisis to see an increase in fraud and corruption, and that’s certainly the case with the pandemic. We're already seeing an increase in fraudulent activity and policy violations within many organizations, and more incidents than organizations have the capacity to investigate. There’s a lot of demand right now for technologies that can monitor activity among remote employees and detect any fraudulent activity that needs to be addressed. I expect we’ll see these challenges persist for several years to come.
What’s the state of technology adoption (e.g., advanced analytics, TAR, etc.) among legal teams in Brazil?
I believe we are living in the forensic 4.0 moment. We have a significant volume and variety of data, such as audio, video, mobile, collaboration and social, but few proven tools or workflows to collect it and review it in a single platform. Organizations need to begin implementing capabilities—through advanced technologies and outside digital forensics experts—to investigate across numerous emerging data sources. Similarly, TAR and advanced analytics will be critical in helping teams efficiently collect and review massive sets of documents. I believe part of the forensic 4.0 shift will be to transition from a linear approach to a multi-dimensional approach in e-discovery and investigations.
Are there any technology advancements you are particularly interested in, or any predictions about emerging technology innovation?
Two key technology capabilities I’m excited about as part of our growth in Brazil are remote collection and collection from non-traditional data sources such as Slack, Teams and social media platforms. FTI Technology is already ahead of the curve on this front, and I look forward to expanding our solutions and expertise in these areas in Brazil.
Do you have an anecdote from a recent client matter that illustrates your experience or the issues clients in Brazil are grappling with?
I previously worked on a case involving numerous jurisdictions including Brazilian, U.S. and European regulators. We had to manage the case from Brazil, but with involvement from multi-language reviewers in several geographies. The case was faced with several challenges, particularly in maintaining consistency in review decisions across multiple languages and time zones. Nevertheless, we achieved the goal of accuracy and completeness throughout data collection, processing, reviewing and reporting to the authorities in all countries involved. The lesson learned from this was the importance of consistency in methodology and technology and to stay collaborative as a team, no matter where your counterparts are located.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
During the pandemic, I’ve tried to return to focusing on the people with whom I work and understanding what they need. People are becoming more stressed and depressed and really struggling with work life balance. The past year has served as a reminder of why it’s so important to stay connected and support our colleagues in taking care of their minds and bodies. When things return to normal, I’m going to try to continue meditating on this and making sure my teams always feel taken care of.
The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals.