Competition watchdog fines stage equipment cartel €370,000

The Competition Council has fined nine companies for price fixing in public tenders to supply video, audio, lighting and stage equipment to public institutions, the council’s chairwoman Skaidrite Abrama told the press on April 26.

The competition watchdog has slapped fines totaling €373,083 on the nine companies. They have been barred from participation in public procurement for one year.

Abrama claimed that almost every local authority that bought equipment between 2009 and 2014 had been affected.

The Competition Council started investing the case in May 2015 when one of the companies involved in the cartel reported the alleged violations to the Competition Council under a leniency program.

The company disclosed information about the cartel whose participants had been sharing public procurement information. The Competition Council established that the violations were committed from 2009 to 2014.

Apart from the company reporting the cartel to the Competition Council, the nine other participants of the forbidden agreement included SGS Sistemas, Diogena Audio, Kompanija NA, Pro 1 Stage, AJV Grupa, Audio AE, 3S, SGM and Solavit.

The named companies violated competition rules by urging rival companies not to submit bids and by coordinating their own bids to ensure the necessary number of bids and victory of a particular bidder. As a result, there was no competition among these companies and organizers of the tenders were misled, as they received coordinated bids, which crippled competition, Abrama said.

Asked about the tenders affected by the cartel, the Competition Council’s representative Maris Spicka said that they ranged from purchases of equipment for the Latvian National Opera and Ballet and the National Theater to purchases for local clubhouses in Latvia’s regions.

“Practically every local authority that bought equipment for its cultural institutions between 2009 and 2014 suffered from this cartel,” said Spicka.

The company that reported the cartel to the Competition Council has been exempt from the fine but has been banned from participation in public procurement for a year.

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