The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) had proposed that the Market Court impose a EUR 35 million penalty on Eltel Networks Oy and Eltel Group Oy for unlawful collaboration between competitors in power line design and construction contracts in Finland in 2004–2011.
The FCCA's investigation demonstrates that the companies had agreed between themselves on the prices, margins and distribution of work pertaining to future power line projects. The FCCA had exempted Empower from paying the penalty because it revealed the existence of the cartel in 2013 by providing the FCCA with the related information and evidence. The FCCA presented the Market Court with a penalty proposal on the matter on 31 October 2014.
In its decision of 30 March 2016, the Market Court found that it had been demonstrated that representatives of these companies met in 2004, 2005 and 2006. As shown by the FCCA, in these meetings they had discussed future power line projects and the distribution of at least some projects between the companies. The companies' representatives had engaged in phone conversations at least a few times a year, and had discussed certain power line projects at least in 2007.
The Market Court found that the FCCA's investigations did not provide legally sufficient evidence that the cartel had existed until 31 October 2009. The Market Court rejected the FCCA's penalty proposal on the grounds that it had been submitted after the five-year time limit laid down in the Act on Competition Restrictions. The Market Court ordered the FCCA to pay EUR 300,000 of Eltel's court fees.
After familiarising itself with the Market Court's decision, the FCCA will decide on whether to appeal against the decision before the Supreme Administrative Court.
Market Court's press release (in Finnish)
Johanna Nyländen, Head of Research, tel. +358 29 505 3606
Timo Mattila, Director General, tel. +358 29 505 3332