Wednesday, August 24, 2011

C is for Corruption: The Car Dealer

Nice car, if you can get it to market.

Having been in Brazil for a few years now and never having lost contact between the early 90s and now, when I was out of the country, I have several accounts of corruption cases which have not made it into the media (yet), which I will will be posting. The first one, was The Paper Company.

This one is The Car Dealer:

A large German car producer wants to expand it's market footprint. Brazilians are all over Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Porsche and all you have to do is setup a storefront - advertisment and financing is usually not necessary. Many pay in cash or charge it to Amex, they just want the damn thing.

The problem was that in the northeast a dealer wanted to do everything the correct way: Get all the documents properly, make sure the site got licensed, hire all employees correctly, etc. The guy was not German, but he actually was one of the correct Brazilian business men I so much admire as they maintain their moral standards in an... let's say "adverse" environment.

This dealer had everything together, except for the operating license which was issued by the mayor's office of the medium-sized town. And the mayor wanted to get a car for free to issue the license. The dealer refused and the license was not issued. The dealer tried all legal loopholes he could find... to no avail. He got pressured from future customers, from friends and from the big German car company that wanted to sell cars in this town, and was willing to bend rules - but he did not give in.

Eventually, the mayor must have had pity, or the mayor lost the election - but the dealer did not pay up... and got the license... a few years after he applied for it.


  1. Interesting story about the car dealer that is as Brazilian Businessman like him are few and far between... I am an expat myself and have been living in Sao Paulo for some time now and know exactly what the C (or the Cs) is/are all about..! Thanks for sharing the story with us..

  2. Neven,

    Thanks for sharing this positive story. It's always nice to hear examples like this.


    I have to say it is a grotesque and unfair exaggeration to say that honest people in Brazil are "few and far between". You are probably new to the country and still has some learning to do about Brazilians.
    By the way, I am a Brazilian leaving in New England and have never seen as many cases of corruption in Brazil as I see here on a constant basis.