Alstom Power Systems GmbH ("Alstom"), a German
subsidiary of the French company Alstom SA, and a manufacturer of
boilers for brown coal power stations, together with two of its
former managers, was fined approx. €91 million by the
German Federal Cartel Office ("BKartA") on Thursday, 12
August, for bid-rigging, which included the assignment of customers
as well as fixing quotas and prices with its competitors when
participating in large public tenders.
Between the 1990's and 2003, Alstom (then called EVT
Energie- und Verfahrenstechnik GmbH) together with its competitors,
Babcock, Steinmüller and Lentjes, fixed the bids submitted by
each of the companies in public tender processes to supply boilers
for large brown coal power stations at various locations in
Germany. The participants in the cartel together agreed the
details of the bids before they were handed in, thereby ensuring
that each of the four companies received at least one of the large
projects at a price over and above what would ordinarily have been
expected. The company that won the overpriced bid would form
a consortium under its lead comprising of the other members of the
cartel. The projects were shared by reference to each
company's market share, to guarantee all four participants in
the cartel were involved to their best capacity throughout each of
Given the boiler manufacturing business of each of
Steinmüller and Lentjes merged with Babcock in the 1990's,
and Babcock has since become insolvent, Alstom is the only party
still active in the manufacture of boilers for coal power stations.
Consequently, fines have only been imposed on Alstom,
The order imposing the BKartA's fine is not yet final and
can be appealed by Alstom to the Court of Appeal in Düsseldorf
Bid-rigging is also punishable under German criminal law. It is
the only horizontal infringement in German competition law that can
lead to the imposition of criminal law sanctions on
individuals. In this case, in addition to the fines imposed
by the BKartA, the German public prosecutor's office has also
investigated the matter with respect to possible violations of the
criminal law prohibition on bid-rigging by previous managers
(fraudulent submission of bids). The majority of such
investigations have been closed before any charges were brought
after payment of fines by the targeted individuals
To view Community Week, Issue 484; 13th August 2010
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