CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES  DID NOT ESCAPE FINES FOR IMITATING COMPETITION

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The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania (Court) upheld the Competition Council’s decision, according to which in 2011–2012 construction companies concluded bid rigging agreements.

In 2014 the Council found that in 2011 and 2012 UAB Baltic Transport Service initiated public procurements for the purchase of construction works and agreed with other cartel participants in advance who will submit the winning bids, in this way imitating competition.

For the anti-competitive agreements the Council imposed the following fines on the companies: UAB Convertus – EUR 7,240, UAB Gedarta – EUR 6,024, UAB UGNA – EUR 2,259, UAB Aestus – EUR 347. The Council took into consideration the fact that the procurement initiator, namely, Baltic Transport Service actively contributed to the bid rigging agreements concluded by the suppliers, thus the company has been acknowledged as one of the cartelists. Due to the fact that in 2011–2012 Baltic Transport Service did not receive any income, the Council was not able to fine the company.

Baltic Transport Service, Convertus and Gedarta appealed the Council’s decision to court, however, both Vilnius Regional Administrative Court and the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania upheld the Council’s decision and confirmed that the Council proved the infringement of the Law on Competition and legitimately imposed fines on the companies.

While adopting the decision, the Council relied on information which the Financial Crime Investigation Service gathered during the pre-trial investigation. The Court confirmed in its decision that the Council may use pre-trial investigation material while proving the infringement, and it does not violate the presumption of innocence. The Court also stated that if competition law infringements identified by the Council are not identical to the criminal offence examined in criminal proceedings, the applicants are not to be considered as fined twice for the same infringement.