General Superintendence starts investigation against alleged salt cartel
The General Superintendence of the Administrative Council for Economic Defense - CADE started on Thursday (26) administrative proceeding no. 08012.005882/2008-38, to investigate alleged cartel in the domestic production and processing of sea salt.
The beginning of the investigation was based on interviews of industry representatives published in the general news, in which they spoke about price adjustments and control of salt production in Rio Grande do Norte.
In September last year, the General Superintendence served nine search and seizure warrants at the headquarters of unions and companies that were allegedly involved in collusion. The operation was carried out in the cities of Mossoró, Natal, and Rio de Janeiro, where the groups maintain sales offices. In the action physical and electronic documents that reveal information about the alleged cartel were seized. There is reason to believe that such anticompetitive conduct could have been in operation for over 20 years.
There is evidence that demonstrate that three industry associations, 21 salt producers and 43 individuals have acted to fix prices, freight values ??and conditions of sale, as well as divide market shares and control production quotas.
The mentioned salt production companies account for over 80% of national production. Hence, the existence of a cartel in the sector hold a significant impact on the prices of both salt for food, increasing the price of essential food goods, and salt for industrial purposes, which is an input for chemical and pharmaceuticals industry.
At this moment, CADE is undergoing the notification of the involved parties, in order for them to present their defenses. At the end of its investigation, the General Superintendence will issue an Official Opinion with the conclusions of the investigation and they may refer the case to the Tribunal for trial for an anticompetitive conduct.