Spanish government investigates scrap collusion

Spanish government investigates scrap collusion

Nation’s competition authority announces ferrous scrap collusion investigation.

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December 3, 2018
Brian Taylor

The Spanish government’s Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia (CNMC) has announced it is investigating “possible anti-competitive practices in relation to the coordination of purchase prices [by] scrap suppliers.”

In a Nov. 30 news release (in Spanish), the CNMC says the investigation is focused on “anti-competitive practices in the scrap buying market for the production of steel, consisting in the coordination to fix the purchase prices of said product to the scrap suppliers.”

Inspections were conducted in late November at the headquarters of several scrap companies in cooperation with regional government agencies where some of the inspected companies are located.

Adds the CNMC, “The inspections represent a preliminary step in the investigation process of the alleged anti-competitive conduct and do not prejudge the outcome of the investigation or the culpability of the inspected companies.” If, as a result of the inspections, illegal practices are indicated, additional legal proceedings will continue, the CNMC states.

“Agreements between competitors constitute a very serious infringement of the competition legislation, which may entail fines of up to 10 percent of the total turnover of the infringing companies,” states the agency.

The CNMC says the scrap investigation is one of its current priorities “given the seriousness of its consequences to consumers and the proper functioning of markets.”

The agency also says it will offer plea agreements via a “leniency program, which allows companies that are part of a cartel to benefit from the exemption from payment of the fine, provided they provide evidence to enable the CNMC to detect it.”