The aim of the protection of market competition is primarily to create benefits for consumers and equal conditions for all entrepreneurs on the market, who, acting in accordance with the existing rules and competing on the market with the quality, price and innovation of their products and services, contribute to the overall development of the economy.
High Administrative Court rejects the claims against the CCA infringement decision in bid rigging cartel in public procurement involving undertakings Agro-Vir, Agrodalm, Diljexport and Marino-Lučko
In its ruling of 14 September 2022, the High Administrative Court of the Republic of Croatia rejected the claim for cancellation of the decision of the Croatian Competition Agency (CCA) of 18 April 2019, rejecting at the same time the proposed postponement of the claim, the imposition of the interim measure and the recovery of the litigation costs. By the ruling of the High Administrative Court the decision of the CCA becomes legally valid.
Previously, in its infringement decision of 28 April 2022, the Croatian Competition Agency found that in the period from 4 June 2012 to 1 January 2014 the undertakings Agro-Vir d.o.o., Agrodalm d.o.o. and Diljexport d.o.o., all from Zagreb, concluded a bid rigging agreement in the public procurement procedure covering 14 groups of food products for the public purchaser – a social care institution providing soup kitchen services “Dobri dom” of the City Zagreb by concluding a four-year frame agreement in the public procurement procedure carried out by the institution “Dobri dom” of the City of Zagreb in 2012.
The CCA found that the bidders concerned concluded a prohibited horizontal agreement (cartel) in the sense of Article 8 paragraph 1 items 1 and 3 of the Competition Act with the objective of prevention, restriction and distortion of competition, by fixing and coordinating the prices in their bids and by colluding on the allocation of individual contracts with the view to creating a designated winning bidder in the tendering procedure concerned.
The CCA also found that the undertaking Marino-Lučko d.o.o. from Lučko subsequently joined the collusive agreement concerned in the period from 1 January 2013 to 1 January 2014 and thereby concluded a prohibited horizontal agreement with the objective of prevention, restriction, and distortion of competition within the meaning of Article 8 paragraph 1 item 3 of the Competition Act.
For the hard-core restriction of competition rules the undertakings concerned had been imposed a total fine in the amount of HRK 2,155 million. The CCA predominantly collected the evidence in this case during surprise inspections of the premises of Agrodalm and Diljexport.
By bid rigging conspiracies involving collusive pricing and allocation of agreements in the public procurement procedure involving 14 groups of food products the participants of the bid rigging cartel committed a hard-core infringement of competition rules.
The integral version of the ruling of the High Administrative Court in the Croatian language is available here
The integral infringement decision of the CCA in the Croatian language is available here
Press release about the infringement decision of the CCA in the English language is available here