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General Superintendence investigates cartel formation in gas station market in Maranhão


Collusion would have occurred in São Luís in 2011
published: Oct 13, 2014 10:00 AM last modified: May 03, 2016 04:23 PM
The General Superintendence of the Administrative Council for Economic Defense – CADE opened on 13 October 2014 an administrative proceeding to investigate an alleged cartel conduct in the fuel distribution and resale market in the metropolitan region of Maranhão (Administrative Proceeding no. 08700.002821/2014-09).

The investigated parties are Sindicato dos Revendedores de Combustível do Estado de Maranhão – SINDICOMB-MA (the Fuel Trade Union of the State of Maranhão), Petrobras Distribuidora S/A, 15 gas stations of the region, and 12 individuals.

The evidence point that, in 2011, the stations fixed fuel resale prices after receiving orientations from SINDICOMB-MA, which divided the city in geographic regions called “corridors” and established values to be charged in each one of them. The collusion would also have had punishment and retaliation mechanisms to stations that practiced lower prices than the agreed ones.

The case started in April 2013 after CADE received judicially authorized phone interceptions and other evidence sent by the Maranhão State Prosecutor’s Office.

With the opening of the administrative proceeding, the charged parties will be notified to present their defenses. After this phase, the General Superintendence will issue an opinion recommending either the condemnation or the case filing to CADE’s Administrative Tribunal, which is responsible for the final decision.

Condemnations in the sector – anti-cartel enforcement is one of CADE’s priorities. Since the new competition law came into force, in May 2012, the antitrust agency has been judging a larger number of cartel proceedings. Just in the fuel sector, CADE already condemned nine cartel cases – two in Santa Maria (RS), one in Bauru (SP), one in Caxias do Sul (RS), two in Londrina (PR), two in Teresina (PI), and one in Manaus (AM). Fines imposed totalize around BRL 150 million.