Secret restrictions on competition between competing companies, i.e., cartels, are one of the most serious restrictions on competition. A company participating in a cartel may be subject to a penalty payment amounting to up to 10% of its turnover. Under certain conditions, a company that has participated in a cartel can receive full or partial immunity from its penalty payment. Only the company that first revealed the cartel may be exempted entirely from the penalty payment.
Leniency refers to a procedure whereby a company participating in a cartel reveals the cartel to the competition authority and applies for exemption from the penalty payment. In order to obtain the exemption, the authority must be provided with information and evidence that the authority has not yet received through other sources. A company that has coerced another company to participate in a cartel cannot be exempted from the penalty payment.
How to apply for exemption from the penalty payment
You can apply for exemption from the penalty payment before or after inspections by the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority. The prerequisites for obtaining the exemption depend on when you apply for the exemption.
A penalty payment is not imposed on a company if it is the first to submit a corporate statement to the FCCA and information and evidence on the basis of which the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority can carry out inspections of other companies participating in the cartel. If the FCCA has received sufficient information before the application from other sources to justify inspections, the company may not receive full immunity on this basis.
When the FCCA already has sufficient information to carry out inspections, the company may still be exempt from the penalty payment. The company must be the first to provide the FCCA with a corporate statement and information and evidence to enable the Authority to establish that Section 5 of the Competition Act has been infringed.
A corporate statement is a voluntary oral or written report or a record thereof, which presents the information the company has regarding the cartel and the company’s role in the cartel and which has specifically been prepared to be presented to the competition authority in order to gain exemption from or reduction of the penalty payment.
In addition to submitting the corporate statement, information and evidence, the company must, in order to be exempt from the penalty payment:
- ends its participation in the restriction of competition immediately after submitting a leniency application to the FCCA
- cooperate with the FCCA during the investigation of the restriction of competition
- not destroy evidence covered by the application, both before and after the submission of the application
- keep confidential the submission and content of the application.
How to obtain a reduction of the penalty payment
The penalty payment imposed on a company participating in a cartel will be reduced if the company meets the above conditions but is not the first to provide the FCCA with the information. In order to get a reduction, a company participating in the cartel must:
- provide the FCCA with a corporate statement and information and evidence relevant for the purpose of establishing the restriction of competition or its full scope or nature
- provide the information before the FCCA has received it through other sources.
A reduction of the penalty payment may not exceed 50%. The amount of the reduction depends, among other things, on the number of companies that have previously managed to provide information on the cartel to the FCCA and the relevance of the information.
Contact the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority
The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority can initially be contacted anonymously, for example through an agent. This is one way of finding out whether full leniency is available. Advice on the procedure may be obtained at the same time.
A company wishing to notify the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority of its participation in a cartel can contact the Authority by telephone: