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Peru: New Law Passed Imposing Criminal Penalties for Price Gouging and Hoarding of Essential Goods

(Sept. 14, 2020) On August 29, 2020, the Congress of Peru promulgated Law No. 31040 of August 28, 2020, which amends the Penal Code and the Code of Protection and Defense of the Consumer. The new law introduces the concept of essential goods and services for the life and health of people in order to protect access to them and requires that the corresponding administrative authority establish a list of essential goods and services within two business days of the declaration of an emergency.

The new law also enacts criminal punishments for the hoarding of, speculation on, and adulteration of essential goods and services. It makes the abuse of economic power and hoarding of essential goods or products punishable by up to six years of imprisonment and a fine.

Regarding the setting of prices, those who abuse their dominant position in the market or participate in restrictive practices and agreements in production, commercial, or service activities in order to prevent, restrict, or distort free competition are subject to a prison sentence of two to six years.

Under the new law, anyone who causes a shortage of essential goods and services through theft or hoarding in order to alter the usual prices for their own benefit and to the detriment of consumers is punishable by not less than four and not more than six years in prison.

A producer, manufacturer, supplier, or merchant who takes advantage of higher demand by flouting the real cost structure of common essential goods and services and engaging in illegal practices to increase their prices is subject to imprisonment of two to six years. If the crime is perpetrated during a state of emergency, the prison penalty is four to eight years.

Finally, with regard to the adulteration of goods, anyone who alters or changes the quality, quantity, weight, or measure of any essential good to the consumer’s detriment is punishable by one to three years in prison. If the crime is committed during a situation of public calamity or state of emergency, the penalty is increased to imprisonment for four to six years.