News, 4 June 2012
A new unit specialising in cartels – the Cartels unit – has been set up at the FCA from 1 June 2012. The unit focuses on the handling of so-called hard core cartels, is responsible for the handling of leniency applications related to cartel reports, and develops the FCA’s investigatory activities.
As part of the programme for combatting the grey economy, the FCA was given supplementary appropriation for the prevention of cartels. New posts haven been established on the strength of these additional resources, and persons familiar with competition law, IT inspections and information retrieval have been recruited. In the beginning of June, the Cartel Unit will contain five persons, but it will be reinforced later on. The head of the unit is Assistant Director Mika Hermas.
The FCA hopes that both undertakings and regular citizens report to the office on their cartel suspicions. A tip-off may also be given anonymously via an electronic tip-off form that can be found on the FCA’s web page. Control has also been boosted by increasing the cooperation of competition authorities and the authorities responsible for making public procurements to detect cartels.
The first one to detect a cartel may obtain immunity
As a rule, the FCA brings all the cartel violations detected before the Market Court for the imposition of a penalty payment. The level of fines imposed for cartels has increased in recent years, and may even be 10 per cent of the undertaking’s turnover under the Competition Act. However, on certain conditions, the company disclosing the cartel may obtain immunity from the fines or obtain a reduction thereof.
Full immunity from fines is only possible for one cartel member – the one who first delivers information and evidence on the cartel to the FCA. On certain conditions, other cartel members may also obtain immunity from the penalty payment if these deliver to the FCA information that is relevant for the investigations. (Cf. www.kilpailuvirasto.fi/leave-the-cartel)
On Thursday 31 May, the Supreme Administrative Court gave its ruling and confirmed the decision issued by the Market Court in the spring of 2009 in which a combined fine of EUR 1,030 m was imposed on the companies which participated in an automobile spare parts cartel. The company which disclosed the cartel obtained full immunity on the basis of the leniency system. – Cf. also the FCA’s press release of 3 December 2009 in the timber cartel issue.
Head of Cartels Unit, Assistant Director Mika Hermas