Taking into consideration the complexity of cross-border infringements of the competition law, competition authorities join their forces for efficient investigation. For example, authorities exchange information on obtained evidence and carry out well-coordinated dawn raids in the countries affected by the respective infringement. Recently, due to lack of evidence the Competition Council of Lithuania terminated 23-month investigation process, which was implemented with assistance of the Competition Council of Latvia (the CC).
In this case there was a suspicion of concluded prohibited agreement among seven construction, repair and household products manufacturing and sales companies. The CC had informed the Lithuanian colleagues regarding the possible alleged infringement. Namely, the manufacturer of paints “Tikkurila”, which operates both in Latvia and Lithuania, allegedly had intervened in the pricing policy of distributors of products, for example, by indicating the average price of products. Since the distributors of products were companies registered in Lithuania, the investigation of the alleged prohibited conduct that could affect competition on the Lithuanian market, was in the competence of the competition authority of the neighbouring country.
In April 2018, the Competition Council of Lithuania initiated investigation in seven companies – SAS “Tikkurila”, SIA “Tikkurila”, UAB “Kesko Senukai Lithuania”, UAB “Kesko Senukai Digital” and UAB “Ermitažas”, UAB “DAW Lietuva” and UAB “Topcolor”. While analysing the information obtained during the investigation, incl. the information obtained during dawn raids carried out by Latvian and Lithuanian competition authorities, no evidence was obtained that would lead to the conclusion that the companies have implemented one of the most severe infringements of the competition law, namely, a prohibited agreement on prices.
Skaidrīte Ābrama, the Chairwoman of the CC: “Cooperation of competition authorities plays a significant role in detection of cross-border infringements. This serves as a positive example both for efficient communication between competition authorities, and the recommended advisable action and assistance that one authority can provide to another authority during investigation process in order to improve the regional competition environment through joint efforts.”