Monday, 19 September 2022 13:58

Press Release - Decision on the ex officio investigation in the market of construction of marble monuments in Α and B cemeteries in Mytilene

Subject: Decision on the ex officio investigation in the market of construction of marble monuments in Α΄ and B΄ cemeteries in Mytilene (Greece) in order to determine whether the conditions for the application of the provisions of Article 1 of L. 3959/2011 on the “Protection of Free Competition”, as in force, and/or Article 101 TFEU are met.

The Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC) held a plenary session, following the relevant Statement of Objections by the case Rapporteur, Mr. Panagiotis Fotis, to examine the case concerning an ex officio investigation in the market of construction of marble monuments in Α΄ and B΄ cemeteries in Mytilene (Greece) in order to determine whether the conditions for the application of the provisions of Article 1 of L. No 3959/2011 on the “Protection of Free Competition”, as in force, and/or Article 101 TFEU are met.

The ex officio investigation of the HCC was initiated on the basis of a transfer by the Complaints Department of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Mytilene to the HCC, of relevant case-file copies concerning an alleged infringement for the period 2015-2020.

The ex officio investigation of HCC concerns alleged infringements of Articles 1 of Law 3959/2011 regarding concerted practices among competitors in the market of marble monuments in Α΄ and B΄ cemeteries in Mytilene and Mytilene Charity Institutions (MCI). 

In particular, regarding the definition of the relevant product market, the parties in this case are active in the market for the manufacture of burial monuments and the market for the management of cemeteries. In relation to the definition of the relevant geographic market, it could be narrowly defined as being the A and B cemeteries of Mytilene or the wider region of Mytilene.

The HCC held, by majority, on the basis both of the individual and the overall analysis of the evidence in the case-file, that fifteen (15) companies – manufacturers of marble monuments in Α΄ and B΄ cemeteries in Mytilene have entered into an unlawful agreement with MCI, aimed at price-fixing and market (customer)-allocation in projects relating to the manufacture of marble burial monuments. The above agreement was also implemented through the mechanism of the collection of donation amounts inextricably linked to the issuance of permits for the construction of burial monuments in the A' and B' Cemeteries of Mytilene, which are managed by MCI. It is therefore concluded that the parties concerted and agreed to adopt a specific conduct in the relevant market, an action which constitutes per se a breach of competition law. The above conduct between the undertakings, which had as its object the adoption of a common pricing policy, violated the national and EU requirement of independence in business activities. Marble manufacturers, through their agreement with the MCI, renounced their entrepreneurial independence and intervened by means of an unlawful coordination into the operation of the market.

The conduct under consideration constitutes a single and continuous cartel infringement which, by its nature, restricts competition in the relevant market and, therefore, falls under the prohibition of article 1(1) of (former) Law 703/1977 and article 1(1) of Law 3959/2011, as in force.

The participation of MCI in the cartel starts from 28.3.2007 and ends on 20.01.2021. For each of the manufacturers involved in it, the duration of participation in the agreement is determined in conjunction with the construction of burial monuments in the A and B cemeteries of Mytilene and, in any case, within the time period of MCI’s participation in the cartel.

By its Decision no. 761/2021, the plenary session of the HCC ruled, by majority and open vote, as follows:  

Α) Finds that the companies of 1) “Mytilene Charity Institutions”, 2) Georgios Raphael Pattes, 3) Michael Pavlou, 4) Christos Sakarakas, 5) Georgios Psaros, 6) Anastasios Psaros, 7) Aikaterini Grigoreli, 8) Vasilios Salavos, 9) Panagiotis Moraitis, 10) Panagiotis Agiasotis, 11) Panagiotis Teloniatis, 12) Aristotelis Karagounis, 13) Michael Kamatsos, 14) Ioanna Ververidou, 15) Theodoros Grigorelis, 16) Stavroula Giannaka,  infringed, according to the grounds of the decision, article 1 of Law 3959/2011 by participating in a prohibited agreement with the aim of restricting competition.

  1. C) Imposes a fine, according to the grounds of the Decision, for the established infringements of article 1 of L. 3959/2022, set at the symbolic amount of fifty (50) euros on each of the companies of 1) Georgios Raphael Pattes, 2) Michael Pavlou, 3) Christos Sakarakas, 4) Georgios Psaros, 5) Anastasios Psaros, 6) Vasilios Salavos, 7) Panagiotis Moraitis, 8) Panagiotis Agiasotis, 9) Panagiotis Teloniatis, 10) Aristotelis Karagounis, 11) Michael Kamatsos, 12) Ioanna Ververidou, 13) Theodoros Grigorelis, 14) Stavroula Giannaka and a fine amounting to fifteen thousand six hundred and twelve(15.612) euros on “Mytilene Charity Institutions". 
  2. C) No fine is imposed on the company/manufacturer Aikaterini Grigoreli, according to the grounds of the Decision. 
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