PRAGUE. APRIL 30. INTERFAX C.N
TRAL EUROPE - The Czech anti-monopoly office (UOHS) has reduced the share of February fine approaching CZK
1 bln to be paid by engineering groups French Areva T&D Holding and German Siemens
AG, UOHS said Monday.
"UOHS chairman Martin Pecina has confirmed the historic high fine against 16 multinational engineering firms [owned by 10 industry holdings] that colluded in the gas insulated switchgear (GIS) market," the UOHS said in a statement. "In [these] two cases, the fines were only slightly lowered."
The overall fine, against a total of 10 companies, was reduced from CZK
979 mln to CZK
941.88 mln, although it still remains the highest in UOHS history.
In Areva's case the UOHS said it lowered the fine from CZK
28 mln to CZK
10 mln because the office could not prove related turnover during the period examined in the complaint, a decisive factor in determining the size of the fine.
Siemens had its fine reduced from CZK
126.6 mln to CZK
107.25 mln because the company proved that it had not taken part in the cartel for one year less than the others.
The total amount of realized GIS orders in the Czech Republic reached some CZK
700 mln from 2001-2004, the period that the UOHS used to determine the fines.
UOHS' initial ruling February 12 came on the heels of a record EUR 750 mln fine imposed January 24 by the European Commission fine on the same group of 10 GIS suppliers in a bid to secure genuine competition in EU electricity markets.
"Between 1988 and 2004, the companies rigged bids for procurement contracts, fixed prices, and allocated projects to each other. They shared markets and exchanged commercially important and confidential information," the EC said in a statement.
Swiss company ABB
was also involved in the cartel be was not been fined by the EC because it acted as the whistleblower, informing authorities about the cartel.
Apart from the EC and UOHS, the case was also taken up by the Hungarian Anti-Monopoly Office and other national watchdog groups.
GIS is heavy electrical equipment used to control energy flows in electricity grids, and is the major component of turnkey power substations.