The fuel mafia


Source: Jornal O Globo

By Leonardo Gadotti Filho

The action developed by the Rio de Janeiro police,
by dismantling a segment of the extensive fuel mafia that operates throughout Brazil, it came to prove with data
irrefutable what honest distributors have long been reporting to the responsible authorities: gangs
tax evaders in the sale of fuels are no different from those that adulterate gasoline, alcohol and

The adulteration of gasoline practiced on an industrial scale with a mixture of solvents, anhydrous alcohol and
aviation kerosene, as revealed in a recent GLOBO report, yields fraudsters not only profits
resulting from the lower cost of the products used in the mixture, as well as those related to the non-payment of the
taxes levied on the activity.

If there were doubts about the volume and extent of the activities of the
fuels, ceased to exist with the disclosure of the numbers obtained in the most recent police action: the dismantling
only one of the mixing points in the Barra Mansa region, in the State of Rio, where 710 thousand liters of
adulterated fuel, caused at least 10 stations in the Baixada Fluminense to stop working due to lack of
product. In other words, these stations only operated to sell the mixture presented as "gasoline". And there are still 30
“Distributors” under investigation.

For traditional distributors that maintain respect for the law and ethics
In recent years, there has remained an arduous path of successive losses caused by unfair competition in an activity in the
which the percentage of taxes reaches almost 60% of the final price of the product. With no return on investment,
investment in resources was reduced, with a consequent increase in the mafia's market share,
vicious circle in which everyone loses: honest distributors; governments, federal and state; and mainly the
consumers who helplessly watch their vehicles deteriorate, largely the only assets they own.

There is still time to adopt a set of actions aimed at restoring the confidence of consumers and consumers.
investors in the sector. Police actions such as those taking place in the State of Rio de Janeiro are indispensable for
make criminals uneasy and safe, reducing the resourcefulness with which they act and the enormous harm they cause. But stop
that society can be sure that organized crime in the fuel sector is
losing the war, it is necessary for the authorities to accelerate the adoption of measures such as the establishment of a new
regulatory framework that endows the National Petroleum Agency with effective instruments for consumer protection and defense of

There is little point in a regulatory body whose decisions are systematically challenged in any
sphere of the Judiciary through injunctions that allow companies of all types to continue defrauding the competition, the
consumer and the state. When the situation deteriorates to that point, we must adopt a comprehensive strategy to combat
fraud involving the various government agencies to which the problem is affected - and enforcing the law. At
general lines of what is to be a National Program to Combat Illegality were recently sent to the
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva by the Brazilian Institute of Competition Ethics (ETCO), of which the
National Union of Fuel Distribution Companies (Sindicom).

It is no longer possible to tolerate
impunity for fraudsters and tax evaders who remain at liberty facing the laws and society. Or we fight the mafia
fuels by putting an end to practices of this nature or we will continue to see the inexorable deterioration of a
vital sector for the economy of any country, with its inevitable consequences and damages to consumers, the State and all

LEONARDO GADOTTI FILHO is vice president of the National Union of Distributors of