The Competition Council sanctioned with fines totaling 41,251,774 lei (approximately 8.47 million euros) the Association of Romanian Financial Companies (ALB) and its 16 member companies for violating competition law, by participating in an exchange of commercially sensitive information, according to a Council statement issued on Tuesday.
The Competition Council found, following an investigation, that some elements with a high degree of detail were transmitted, along with information on the value of current and future financing, such as the value of the asset, the period financed, the residual value, the leasing portfolio, etc. .
All this has led to excessive market transparency, giving competitors the opportunity to adapt their business strategies accordingly.
This practice was facilitated by the Association of Romanian Financial Companies – ALB, but also by a company that applied to the leniency policy, providing the competition authority with the necessary information to launch the investigation in 2017. Also, a company acknowledged participation in the anti-competitive act , which led to a reduction in the fine imposed on it.
“This is an important case in terms of clarifying the behavior regarding the exchange of information, especially in the case of associations, similar to the one in which insurance companies and the National Union of Insurance and Reinsurance Companies of Romania (UNSAR) were involved. The role and responsibilities of associations are beneficial – for example, in applying high professional standards in industry. At the same time, however, they can facilitate the exchange of commercially sensitive information, allowing companies to keep abreast of their competitors’ market strategies, which can lead to restrictions on competition. The impact of the exchange of information on the competitive environment depends not only on the initial characteristics of the market in which it takes place, but also on the type of information exchanged “, said Bogdan Chiriţoiu, President of the Competition Council.
The fines applied were for the companies Alpha Leasing Romania IFN SA – 403,006.01 lei; BCR Leasing IFN SA – 4,680,165.02 lei; BRD Sogelease IFN SA – 1,942,173.42 lei; BT Leasing Transilvania IFN SA. – 4,327,225.22 lei; Idea Leasing IFN SA – 1,656,550.36 lei; Impuls Leasing Romania IFN SA – 3,458,203.68 lei; Motoractive IFN SA – 3,658,735.28 lei; OTP Leasing Romania IFN SA- 589,073.43 lei.
Other fined companies were: Piraeus Leasing Romania SA – 293,664.16 lei; Porsche Leasing Romania IFN SA. – 1,563,254.47 lei; Raiffeisen Leasing IFN SA – 1,732,069.96 lei; RCI Leasing Romania IFN SA – 3,562,857.48 lei; RD Leasing IFN SA – 1,006,741.78 lei; Ţiriac Leasing IFN SA – 2,898,688.16 lei; Unicredit Leasing Corporation IFN SA – 9,054,491.05 lei; Vista Leasing IFN (Romania) SA – 386,197.77 lei; Association of Financial Companies – ALB – 38,676.69 lei.
Following the competition authority’s investigation, ALB adopted measures to comply with competition law, implementing a “black box” project. Thus, ALB concluded a contract with a consulting firm, which will centralize and process only information related to past periods (not the future intentions of companies), and then present them in an aggregate form (which does not allow the identification of strategic information of participants).
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