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CARTELS: AMO confirms unannounced inspection in the area of information technologies

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The Antimonopoly Office of the Slovak Republic, Division of Cartels confirms that on April 13, 2015 it conducted an unannounced inspection in the premises of companies acting in the area of information technologies.

Inspection was made based on reasonable suspicion that five undertakings might have concluded agreement restricting competition consisting in direct or indirect price fixing, market allocation, restriction of supplies of goods, outputs, works or services or in other coordination of their conduct relating to biding in public procurements, tenders or other procedures announced within the Operational Programme Education. Suspicion referred mainly to two tenders with contract value exceeding EUR 10 000 000 and EUR 18 000 000 (partially financed through non-refundable financial contribution).

Since it is a horizontal agreement between direct competitors which belongs to the most serious infringements of competition rules and is considered as hard-core cartel, in case of prove of the agreement, the undertakings may be imposed a fine of up to 10% of their turnover for the preceding closed accounting period.

The Office also states that the competition law provides for using the instrument of so called leniency programme, according to which the party to the cartel agreement may avoid a fine (if it is first to provide the Office with the decisive evidence on existence of such agreement in time when the Office does not have any evidence on cartel agreement or submits information and evidence decisive for inspection) or the fine may be reduced by up to 50%. Detailed conditions of immunity from fine or its reduction are summarized in document Program zhovievavosti (tzv. leniency program).

The fact that the Office conducted an inspection does not imply that the entities concerned have infringed the competition rules, nor does it prejudge the conclusions of the investigation. The Antimonopoly Office of the Slovak Republic does not provide further information at this stage of investigation.