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SUPREME ADMINISTRATIVE COURT OF LITHUANIA IMPOSED STRICTER FINES ON MANAGERS OF CARTEL FIRMS

20 12 2019
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The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania (Court) partially satisfied the request of Konkurencijos taryba and restricted the right of Justinas Vanagas, manager of the firm VšĮ Media medis and Aušrinė Jurgelionytė, manager of Ministerium, to occupy managerial positions for 6 months and respectively imposed EUR 4,000 and EUR 2,000 fines for their involvement in an anti-competitive agreement.

The Court partially changed the ruling of Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, according to which EUR 920 and EUR 900 fines were imposed on the aforementioned persons. Konkurencijos taryba asked the court of higher instance to impose stricter sanctions on four managers of cartel firms: disqualify them from occupying a managerial position in the public or private sector or from being a member of a governing body for a period of three to five years, as well as impose the fines ranging from EUR 7,000 to EUR 14,000.

Compared to the ruling of Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the Supreme Court of Lithuania decided to impose a stricter sanction on two company managers. The sanction, however, was less strict than envisaged by the Law on Competition. The Court stated that the imposition of a fine below the lower limit set by the law, i. e. disqualification period from 3 to 5 years, or the non-imposition of it is a possibility rather than a rule. The court may decide to impose lower fines only in case of special mitigating circumstances. What is more, the sanction should be used extremely carefully so as not to infringe the interests of the injured parties, society and the state.

The Court acknowledged that company managers are subject to higher duty of care, therefore, they should and could have expected to face negative legal consequences arising from a competition law infringement.

In 2015 Konkurencijos taryba found that the companies Ministerium, Nebūk briedis and VšĮ TV Europa concluded a bid rigging agreement in the public procurement for software development works, while UAB Nebūk briedis and VšĮ Media medis – for communications services. For the infringements of the Law on Competition Konkurencijos taryba fined four undertakings EUR 34,700.

The Law on Competition stipulates that where a manager is found to have been involved in a prohibited agreement concluded between competitors or in the abuse of a dominant position, such manager may be disqualified from holding a managerial position in a public and (or) private legal person, or a from being a member of the collegial supervisory and (or) governing body of a public and (or) private legal person for a period of three to five years. Additionally, a fine of up to EUR 14,480 may be imposed.

The list of persons that have been subject to personal liability for competition law infringements is published on the authority‘ website.