Competition Commission continuing cartel focus

Continuing numbers of dawn raids and high levels of fines demonstrate that the
Spanish competition regulator is taking the fight against cartels seriously

La entrada de la regulación
anti-cárteles y la denuncia
de irregularidades y de la
indulgencia empresarial ha
tenido un impacto enorme
en el mercado doméstico y
está claramente entre las
prioridades de las
autoridades en competencia,
comenta Pedro Callol,
Responsable del írea de
Competencia en la oficina
de Roca Junyent en Madrid.

The introduction of anti-cartel, and last
year of whistle-blowing and leniency
rules, in Spain has had a huge impact on
the domestic market and are clearly now
among the major priorities of the Spanish
Competition Commission – Comisión
Nacional de Competencia (CNC), says
Pedro Callol, Head of Competition and
EU at Roca Junyent in Madrid.

'There has been a lot of activity over
the past year and much of the most
high profile investigative emphasis to
date has been focused on the consumer
goods sectors, in part reflecting wider
concerns over the impact of cartel
activity on the real economy at a
moment of economic recession,' he
explains.

The CNC has reportedly increased it
staff by 50% to cope with its workload
and this year already imposed fines
totalling over €70m – with notable
results in sectors as diverse (and as
relevant) as the telecommunications,
media, petrol, packaging, wine and
foods sectors.

'But besides individual cartel
investigations, the CNC has also raised
serious questions over the role, remit
and membership rules of trade
associations. There have been many
and prominent dawn raids in the last
18 months, says Callol.

Companies are though appealing
fines, as a matter of course, while there
are also test cases aimed at ascertaining
the limits of the CNC's jurisdiction in
dawn raids.

'The outcome of a number of cases
regarding inspected companies may
depend on the outcome of court
litigation regarding dawn raids' he says.
We are now starting to see some
outcomes but for the most part, Spain
has yet to see the results of many of the
leniency investigations launched since
new whistle-blowing rules came into
force in February 2008, but the queues
outside the doors of the CNC the day it
come into force have raised
expectations, says Callol.

'Except for the statistics that the
CNC may publish, it is impossible to
know exactly how much activity there
is but many cases are in the process of
being decided, the first outcomes of
which we will see in the coming
months.'

Competition Commission continuing cartel focus

Garcia-Sicilia

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