Thursday, 30 December 2021 15:48

Press Release - Decision No 755/2021 - Ex officio investigation in the tender for the public infrastructure project “Northern Road of Crete, Gournes – Chersonissos Part”

Subject: Decision following the ex-officio investigation in the tender for the public infrastructure project “Northern Road of Crete, Gournes – Chersonissos Part” (“Gournes – Chersonissos”)  for possible violation of Article 1 Law 3959/2011 and Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)

Summary

The Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC), in plenary, unanimously adopted Decision No 755/2021. According to the decision, the company ATHONIKI TECHNIKI SA (“ATHONIKI”) violated Article 1 of Law 3959/2011, as in force, and Article 101 TFEU and was fined €5.828,55.

Facts

Following an ex officio investigation in tenders for public infrastructure projects, the Directorate General for Competition conducted a dawn raid on 25.01.2017 during which a document was identified. The document evidenced the involvement of the undertaking ATHONIKI in collusion regarding a tender for a public infrastructure project, i.e. the construction of a motorway in Crete (Gournes-Chersonisos motorway).  Said tender forms part of a broader cartel of tenders for public works, which has been previously examined by the HCC and for which three decisions have been issued (HCC 642/2017 Settlement Decision, HCC 647/2017 and HCC 748/2021 Settlement Decision).

Relevant Market

In bid-rigging cases the point of reference for the purposes of market  definition is in fact the project affected by the cartel under investigation. Thus, in this case, the relevant product market is the project “Gournes – Chersonissos”. The relevant geographical market is defined as the whole of the Greek territory.

Assessment

ATHONIKI participated in anti-competitive practices and more specifically a) has entered into an agreement with other members of the cartel, prior to the submission of the financial offer, i) which joint venture would submit the winning bid, ii) which undertakings would submit cover biddings and iii) the monetary compensation for the companies submitting the cover bids and b) exchanged sensitive commercial information with the other cartel members. 

Fine / Penalties

The HCC found that ATHONIKI has infringed Article 1 of Law 3959/2011, as in force, and Article 101 TFEU and imposed a fine of € 5.828,55.

For the calculation of the fine the HCC observes the principle of equal treatment since for other companies implicated in the cartel the HCC has issued decision 642/2017. The fine imposed on these other cartel members has been calculated in decision 642/2017 in a similar manner.  

It is recalled that in case of damages, the injured parties, if the other conditions are met, can file follow on damages actions before the civil courts. Particularly in the case of cartels, it has been estimated that 93% of them lead to overcharge with an average observed overcharge of around 20%.[1]

[1] Commission (EU), Practical Guide – Quantifying Harm in Actions for Damages based on Breaches of Article 101 or 102 TFEU (2013), [142-143].

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