January 26, 2021

The CNMC resolved 9 sanctioning cases in 2019 with fines that reach 432 million euros



The National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) resolved in 2019 up to nine cases that ended with the imposition of sanctions for anti-competitive behavior amounting to 432 million euros.

The public body managed to process 21 sanctioning files but 12 of them were filed when they found that there were no indications of infringement, so that only nine ended in sanctions against companies, according to its latest annual report collected by Europa Press.

Specifically, two of the resolutions responded to conduct described as cartel, since they included the manipulation of public tenders, which were sanctioned for a total amount of 172.6 million euros.

In the first case, it was 119 million euros after verifying that, for fourteen years, the companies Cobra, Elecnor, Siemens, Semi, Inabensa, Alstom, Cymi, Isolux, Electren, Comsa, Indra, Neopul, Telice, Eym and Citracc created several cartels in the AVE and conventional train tenders, a file that was initiated as a result of a petition for clemency submitted by Alstom.

In the second case, Competition dismantled and sanctioned a cartel organized by 19 industrial assembly and maintenance companies, which was created to increase the cost of services provided mainly to firms in the energy and petrochemical sector, with sanctions that rose to 54.26 million euros .

Among the fined companies were two ACS subsidiaries (MASA and Maessa), with penalties worth 18 million, as well as Duro Felguera Operations and Assemblies, with a fine of 1.32 million euros, and Sacyr Nervión, with a fine of 1.16 million euros.

However, thanks to the fact that both cartels originated from leniency programs, the total sanction of the two cases was reduced by 26.6 million euros, to 146 million. Of the 36 cartels dismantled by the CNMC since its creation, 14 took part in a leniency program that reduced the joint fine from 666 million to 500 million euros.

TOBACCO, TEXT BOOKS AND AUDIOVISUAL MEDIA

In addition to these two cartels, the body now chaired by Cani Fernández sanctioned seven other conducts with 259 million euros, five of them contrary to article 1 of the Competition Law related to tobacco (Philip Morris Spain, Altadis and JT International Iberia) , non-university textbooks, dairy industries, Mediaset and Atresmedia and the Vaillant group.

The other two disciplinary proceedings were in response to conduct contrary to article two of the Competition Law – the SGAE was sanctioned with 2.95 million euros for abusing a dominant position in the market – or the third of this same law – Endesa Energía XXI was sanctioned with a fine of 5.5 million euros for a misleading advertising campaign.

REVIEW BY THE AN AND THE SUPREME

During the year 2019, the National Court (AN) and the Supreme Court (TS) have issued 177 judgments resolving challenges regarding 293 resolutions adopted by the CNMC in the exercise of its functions of supervision of competition in the markets, of which 174 refer to 26 sanctioning resolutions of various types.

Competence concludes in this regard that, through the admission or inadmissibility of appeals, the AN judgments confirming the infringement or the fine declared by the CNMC were declared firm in relation to 65 sanctioned companies out of 70 possible.

CONCENTRATION OPERATIONS

The report also shows that 86 concentration operations were reported compared to 83 in 2018 and 94 in 2017, thus observing a stabilization in the decreasing trend in the number of concentrations reported in recent years.

The CNMC council resolved a total of 88 concentration operations in 2019, of which 83 were authorized in the first phase without commitments and 4 were authorized in the first phase with commitments provided by the parties.

Last year, the council met 29 times in plenary, a much higher number than seen in 2018, when it met 16 times. The Competition Chamber met 46 times, the same as the Regulatory Supervision Chamber. In addition, the annual meeting of the Competition Defense Council, which groups the CNMC and the competition authorities of the autonomous communities, was held to coordinate their actions in this area.

In relation to the inspection activity on energy companies, the CNMC carried out 3,423 inspections, of which 265 had to do with the remuneration aspects of the gas and electricity sector, which were the points that particularly affected its action plan for that exercise.

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