Mon. Dec 16th, 2019

The National Court sees cartel in the concessionaires of Toyota but not of Hyundai

The National Court has confirmed the fines that the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) imposed in 2015 on a dozen Toyota dealers when considering the existence of a cartel in the "Madrid area" between November 2012 and June 2013.

Signs that have not found in ten of Hyundai dealers, also fined by the body four years ago for agreeing, supposedly, the fixing of maximum discounts in several models and the exchange of sensitive information from September 2012 to June 2013, companies to which now the Contentious-Administrative Chamber lifts the sanction.

In March 2015, Competition imposed fines for a total amount of 9 million euros to 45 dealers of Toyota, Hyundai and Opel, which formed, according to the agency, several cartels in Madrid and Galicia.

These companies also had the collaboration of ANT Servicalidad, a company specializing in customer service, market research and conducting assessments of "mysterious buyer" for automotive brands.

Once the file was processed, the CNMC considered it accredited that the sanctioned Toyota dealers adopted and implemented pricing agreements and other commercial conditions, and exchanged sensitive information related to the Yaris Hybrid, Prius, Prius +, Auris Hybrid and Auris Gasolina models / Gasoil.

Measure that was appealed individually by these companies, to which the National Court ratifies the fines, whose average amount exceeds 100,000 euros.

In nine judgments that Efe has had access to, the magistrates of the court defend that the CNMC acted in accordance with the law, and insist that the documentation in the file "clearly clarifies the position of the companies in terms of knowledge of the existence of the cartel and its participation in it. "

For the court, the mail sent by the commercial director of ANT to the dealers involved, among which are AE Llorente, Comauto Sur, M.Conde, Herbamotor, Hispano Japonesa Motor, Madrid Cars, Arjona Motor and Supra Gamboa, is the main test element.

The text shows, understand the judges, the concert between them, who attended, at least, a meeting in the Madrid municipality of Rivas Vaciamadrid with ANT, a company that aimed to "avoid the price war" with the "homogenization of discounts maximum, thereby achieving … increase the commercial margin per vehicle sold ", as some of his own communications said.

However, the room does not perceive that same clarity in the case of Hyundai dealers, sanctioned by the CNMC for restricting competition in the vehicle distribution market to individuals and SMEs in the i30, ix35 and Santa Fe models.

Unlike those of Toyota, the presence of these is not proven at the September 2012 meeting where the cartel was formed, "and the existence of emails or contacts between the different concessionaires is not disclosed either."

Therefore, although "elements that might suggest" appear in a possible anti-competitive alliance, the participation of Motor Gamboa, Rocal Automoción, Zonauto Sur, Cobendai, Iberdai Motors, Liderdai, Santón Oliva and Yuncar Motor, the judgments conclude , that annul sanctions that oscillated between 58,000 and 262,000 euros.

The CNMC fines also affected 23 Opel dealers by setting prices and exchanging information in distribution to private vehicles of the Astra, Zafira, Insignia and Mokka models, on which the Audiencia Nacional has already begun to pronounce itself.

In one of them, the one related to the South Center of Automobiles, the magistrates annul the resolution of Competition that punished the society with 85.652 euros, because although it appears in the first market studies of ANT, neither invoices have been found in its name nor communications that show their connection.

It also estimates the appeal of Autotodo, albeit partially, since it forces the CNMC to recalculate the fine of 319,948 euros and limit it to the period in which it was part of the prison, between March 2011 and June 2013, in a verdict which, like the previous one, has the private vote of Judge Santiago Pablo Soldevila Fragos.

(tagsToTranslate) Hearing (t) National (t) dealers (t) Toyota (t) Hyundai

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