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Further delay to Brazilian cartel trial.

Friday January 22 2010
Volume: 38  Issue: 04

A LONG-awaited opening of the so-called Citrovita documents, seized in an investigation of possible cartel practices in Brazil's orange juice industry, has been cancelled again on 15 January. This is the second cancellation in January and was prompted this time by a preliminary ruling issued by the So Paulo Federal Regional Tribunal (TRF) following a deferment request submitted by Citrovita, writes Vladimir Pekic.

The Citrovita documents were seized by Federal Police during what is known as a "Fanta Operation" in January 2006 and the process is still ongoing in the Secretariat of Economic Law (SDE) of the Ministry of Justice, which is the chief investigative body in matters related to anticompetitive practices.

The SDE, which wants to go public with the seized documents that could possibly help to prove the existence of a supposed cartel in the orange juice industry, is expected to appeal the TRF decision.

Earlier this month, Brazil's Justice Ministry cancelled the opening of the Citrovita documents, because representatives of the company did not attend the scheduled opening on 8 January. The Federal Police collected 30 sacks (100 litres) of material during the Fanta Operation, in addition to computer disks from company headquarters in five cities.

According to the Brazilian citrus producers' association Associtrus, the opening of documents represents an unparalleled opportunity to establish whether a cartelisation process exists in the orange juice industry and to provide insight into the procedures and practices of the industry.

The SDE is investigating the Cutrale, Citrosuco, Citrovita (controlled by Votorantim Group), Louis Dreyfus and Bascitrus industries that dominate Brazilian fruit juice exports.


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