The National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) has been investigating for three years more than twenty consulting firms that illegally divided the market, acting as a cartel. Among them are the largest in the sector, such as Deloitte, PwC and KPMG. The directors of the consulting firms were “aware of the illegality” of their practices, as published today by the newspaper El País, which has accessed investigation documents.
Competition registers the offices of consulting firms on suspicion of altering the offers
The newspaper cites emails between managers. These show that they knew what they could face. In 2016, for example, a partner of a consulting firm sent this email to another about a contract with the Balearic Government: “Hey, tell me, that I have been invited to the Balearic Islands and it seems to be yours. Enlighten me, master and commander, that later you are going to have to come and look for me in the teal. “In another email, an executive of 97SS & F claims to have” a very good relationship with Deloitte, we cover each other in public tenders. ”
The cartel’s operations were based on so-called “coverage offers”. When bidding for a public contract, the firms submitted bogus offers from friendly consultants that were simpler, but more expensive. The company that aspired to the contest “offered to prepare the offer of its competitors, who would only have to stamp their signature and letterhead and send it,” according to the report cited by the newspaper. The fraud occurred so much in the north of Spain —where the investigation originated by the Basque Competition Authority – as in the rest of the territory, in two parallel networks.
Another email reports that, at one point, the consultants smelled that someone was watching them and tried to further professionalize the “coverage offers”. “I have been looking at the proposal and, as it is, I will not send it. It must be noted that we are really going for the contest. From now on, the coverage must be done very well, as if we were going to win “.
The CNMC opened the sanctioning file in February 2019 against 25 consulting companies and several executives of some of them. In addition to Deloitte, KPMG and PwC, among those investigated were Indra Sistemas, Red2Red and Gestiona XXI Consulting. Competition proposes, according to El País, millionaire sanctions (higher than ten million euros in the case of Deloitte, PwC and KPMG) for 22 companies, something that the agency does not confirm or deny. Consulted by this means, they assure that “the decision is still to be taken”.