The Antitrust Review of the Americas 2010

Brazil: Cartels and Leniency

01 January 1900

Last February, the Secretariat of Economic Law (SDE) raided producers of compressors for refrigeration in the states of São Paulo and Santa Catarina in the first coordinated operation with the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) and the European Commission’s Directorate General for Competition (DG Comp). Raids were executed simultaneously in Brazil, Denmark, Italy and the United States. In Brazil, the operation was conducted by more than 60 law enforcers, including federal police officers, public prosecutors, and attorneys from the SDE. In the state of São Paulo, the SDE raided the offices and homes of presidents and former executives of the investigated companies, seizing hard drives, laptops and documents. According to the SDE, the targets have allegedly fixed prices and shared sensitive commercial information through e-mails, phone calls and meetings in hotels and restaurants. The investigations were triggered by a leniency agreement. It was the first time Brazilian antitrust authorities played a major role in an international cartel investigation and possibly the dawn of a new era in global anti-cartel enforcement, but it was also the culmination of a process of steady evolution of antitrust enforcement in the country.

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