On 7 December, the Competition Council of Latvia (the CC) adopted a decision, according to which it detected unlawful and repeated coordination of activities between providers of office equipment maintenance and delivery services SIA “TOMEGA” and SIA “BTK.LV”. The CC imposed a fine of 33 268 EUR on SIA “TOMEGA” for bid-rigging in public procurement procedures. Due to liquidation of the other participant of the infringement, a fine was not imposed on the company.
The CC initiated investigation, because the authority had at its disposal information on alleged coordinated activities among several market participants, who participate in procurement procedures on delivery, maintenance, repairs and delivery of supplies of office equipment. During the investigation process, the CC obtained evidence, that bid-rigging was implemented in several procurement procedures, including price quotation processes announced by the Ministry of Culture and SIA “Talsu namsaimnieks” (housing manager in Talsi, Latvia), and in a procurement procedure announced by SIA “Rīgas satiksme” (provider of public transport services in the capital city).
The bid-rigging process manifested itself as deliberate, targeted and systematic agreement on conditions for participation in procurement procedures, as well as on the winner in such procurement procedures. To ensure winning by any specific company, the companies coordinated their tenders and informed each other on the content of submitted documents, including information on prices. The evidence obtained during the investigation process indicates, that the involved companies also submitted cover tenders to imitate competition for customers.
Considering that SIA “TOMEGA” cooperated with the CC and concluded settlement, thus admitting the facts obtained by the authority and involvement in the particular infringement, the CC reduced the amount of fine imposed on the company. A fine of 33 268 EUR will have to be paid into the state budget by SIA “TOMEGA”. The CC did not impose a fine on SIA “BTK.LV”, as the company was liquidated shortly before adoption of the decision.
The CC observed during the investigation, that alleged non-conformities with the principles of fair competition can be found in activities of the case participant SIA “RF Serviss”. To prevent potential infringements in the future, the CC carried out preventive negotiations with SIA “RF Serviss”, during which the company was given a warning without imposing a fine. If the market participant will be noticed by the CC due to similar activities, the authority will consider it as infringement recurrence and will be eligible to initiate an infringement case.