Social Damages for Corruption: Examples Please

Faithful readers know that for a StAR/UNODC project I am searching for cases where corruption victims were compensated for their losses.  One area where I desperately need assistance is in locating awards for social damages. 

Recovery for social damage was pioneered by Costa Rican jurists.  Article 38 of the Costa Rican penal code gives the Procuraduría General de la República the power to recover damages for acts that affect diffuse or collective interests. Termed “social damages,” the PGR web site lists five corruption cases where over $41 million in social damages have been collected.  The cases have generated learned commentary both in Costa Rica (examples here and here) and in other Latin American states (here and here). Likely because I read Spanish poorly and slowly, beyond the Costa Rican ones, I can find no case where social damages for corruption have been awarded.  Help from readers with examples or leads on where I might find examples is solicited.

For the uninitiated, social damages are compensation paid to redress harm to the welfare of a community. A community’s welfare is the combination of economic and non-economic conditions that together produce a sense of satisfaction, happiness, health, and so forth. To me, it seems to parallel Amartya Sen’s argument that GDP alone is not a sufficient measure of a nation’s well-being though I have yet to see the link made.

Thanks again to readers who responded to my earlier queries.  As with those, submissions in any language Google Translate reads welcome.

6 thoughts on “Social Damages for Corruption: Examples Please

  1. Hi Rick,

    Just a quick reaction to you post. I am sure that you are aware of the BOTA foundation, where money was given back to the people of Kazakhstan through a foundation. See here for example:

    I am also thinking about the money from the Siemens settlement that was used to set up the International Anti-Corruption Academy. If I am not mistaken, students from certain countries will pay a smaller tuition fee. It is a very indirect way of giving back the money, but I still think it is relevant. I am not 100% sure whether there is a direct relationship with where the corruption took place, perhaps this can be checked.

    I am also thinking about the Goldman Sachs settlement regarding 1MDB. Some of that money will be given back to the government of Malaysia.

    Hope this helps.

    Kind regards,
    Geert Vermeulen

  2. Hi Rick, the Brazilian Supreme Court (STF) recently awarded social damages (“non material collective damages” – “danos morais coletivos” in Portuguese) in a criminal corruption case (AP 1002/DF – I’m aware of similar rulings in civil cases (usually regarding Brazil’s “probity defense law” – Lei de Improbidade Administrativa), although these are not necessarily connected to corruption cases.

  3. Rick, see this brief from the Brazilian Federal Prosecution Service at page 31 et seq. for arguments and case references supporting a collective moral damages claim in the context of civil prosecution for “improbity” in Brazil. The statutory definition of improbity includes but is not limited to corruption of government officials.
    Please e-mail me should you need more materials from Brazil.

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