ES Attorney General Says Petrobras Advertising Deceives Consumers

Photo: Fernando Frazão/ Agência Brasil

A public civil action filed as a matter of urgency by the Attorney General’s Office of Espírito Santo, the Federal District and ten other states asks for the suspension of announcements on the composition of fuel values ​​made by Petrobras. The pieces are considered by representatives of the state governments as false advertising.

According to the document, the state-owned company shared false information about the reasons that led to the rise in fuel prices by attributing responsibility to the states for the values ​​found at the pumps.

For the prosecutors, the announcements made by Petrobras disregard, for example, factors related to the price policy of the state-owned company and federal taxes.

“The aforementioned article, under the guise of a clarification note to consumers, promotes serious distortions in the information provided, either by omitting that the liter of “gasoline” sold at gas stations is composed of Anhydrous Ethanol in the percentage of 27%, or by to exclusively emphasize aspects that generate the false understanding that the entire process of increasing the value of fuels would result from facts outside the State’s actions, from the addition of ethanol to the fuel sold by the gas stations, as well as from the incidence of federal taxes,” says an excerpt of the document.

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The Attorney General of Espírito Santo, Jasson Hibner Amaral, explained that the lawsuit filed by the Attorneys General has three objectives.

“The action is for collective moral damage due to the deceit nature, as the advertisement deceives the consumer. It asks that the advertisement be removed from the social networks and media that were disseminated and for Petrobras to disclose for the same time and the same channels an advertisement clarifying information,” he said.

According to the attorney general in Espírito Santo, the rates on gasoline and diesel have not been changed recently, which could justify part of the readjustments in the value of fuels.

“It is important to emphasize that the rates on gasoline and diesel have been the same for many years. If there was no change in them, it was not the rates that caused the price to fluctuate. In Espírito Santo, the rate for diesel is 12%. This is the lowest in the country. Gasoline is 27%. The lowest is 25%. We are the ninth state among the lowest gasoline tax rates,” he said.

According to the attorney general, changes in the company’s policy with regard to price composition contribute to fluctuations in fuel prices. Among the changes is the parity with the international market, adopted in 2016. “Petrobras needs to assume the consequences of its price composition policy. Everything has its onus and bonuses,” he stressed.

understand the action

The lawsuit filed by the Attorney General’s Office is being processed at the 18th Civil Court of Brasília. It is signed by the attorneys general of Espírito Santo, Bahia, Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Sul, Pará, Maranhão, Sergipe, Piauí, Amazonas, Goiás, Amapá and Minas Gerais and the Federal District.

The allegation is that Petrobras shared false information about the reasons for the recent rise in fuel prices. The ads created and released by the state-owned company would be, according to the action, attributing to the States the responsibility for the values ​​found at the pumps of gas stations. In some regions of Brazil, the value of gasoline has already exceeded R$ 7.

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“On the pretext of informing the composition of the price of a liter of gasoline, Petrobras induces the consumer to think that a liter of gasoline costs R$ 2.00, which would be the value that the company remunerates, comparing it with the other items that make up the final price”, says the text of the action.

In one of the texts published on the website, the state-owned company asked: “Did you know that Petrobras only receives R$ 2.00 for each liter of gasoline sold in Brazil?”. The message is accompanied by a video that explains the process of extracting and selling oil to gas stations. The video asks the following question: “But then, where is the difference you pay at the pump?”.

The state-owned company attributes the high price of fuels to the Tax on Operations related to the Circulation of Goods (ICMS) charged by the States.

In addition to suspending the content disclosed, the prosecutors are asking Petrobras to produce new advertising pieces capable of “undoing the harmful effects of the misleading advertising it transmits”. The new advertising campaign should enlighten consumers about the correct composition of fuel prices.

Petrobras’ positioning

Petrobras informed, through its press office, that it will analyze the content of the actions of the States and the Federal District and will evaluate the appropriate measures.

*With information from Estadão Content.

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