Cade and PRF conduct dawn raid against alleged salt cartel in Rio Grande do Norte
The General Superintendence of the Administrative Council for Economic Defense - Cade held a dawn raid of documents and electronic material in an investigation against an alleged salt producers’ cartel in the state of Rio Grande do Norte. The action had operational support of Federal Highway Police (PRF) from the states of Rio Grande do Norte and Rio de Janeiro.
The operation took place in the cities of Mossoró, Natal and Rio de Janeiro. There are nine search and seizure warrants against companies and union headquarters - seven of them in Mossoró, one in Natal and one in Rio de Janeiro, where the groups keep commercial offices.
The searches are based on Cade's request granted by the Federal Court in Natal, Mossoró and Rio de Janeiro, because of union public statements affirming that the companies constantly met to discuss product price and production quantities - which in theory constitutes cartel. An economic study done by Cade showed that, since the start of such meetings between the companies, the price of salt increased to levels close to what they would be if there were a monopoly in the sector. It was noticed that, since 2008, the price of salt for human consumption to the final consumer is 50% higher than the inflation rate in the period, according to the Brazilian National Consumer Price Index (INPC).
Salt production companies allegedly involved in the cartel account for about 80% of national production, which explains the significant impact a cartel in the sector has on the prices of salt - raw material for chemical and pharmaceutical industry - and salt for human consumption.
The action also included technical support from the State Prosecutor’s office and from Federal Police experts. Altogether, there was the participation of: 42 PRF officials, 22 Cade technicians, 18 officers and two security agents from the Federal Justice System, four Federal Police experts, and various sections of the Federal Attorney General’s Office.