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Belgian Competition Authority Steps Up Fight Against Bid Rigging and Strikes Down Fire Protection Cartel

  • 09/07/2024
  • News

Following close on the heels of a settlement decision fining procurement practices in the private security sector (see, VBB Belgian Antitrust Watch of 4 July 2024), the Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) has now concluded another settlement agreement with firms found guilty of bid rigging practices in the fire protection business (see, attached press release of 8 July 2024). In keeping with its enforcement priorities for 2024 (here and here), the BCA went after Ansul and Somati Fie (both owned by London Security plc) as well as Sicli. These firms had agreed to refrain from bidding for specific contracts or to submit "cover" bids (i.e., bids that are deliberately priced higher than rival bids) to allow each of them to maintain historical customers in the public sector in areas as diverse as education, social housing and public transport.
The London Security firms obtained immunity from fines because they had been first to report the cartel to the BCA. For its part, Sicli was given a fine of EUR 2.2 million which reportedly reflects a 50% reduction on the “normal” rate as a reward for cooperating with the BCA in its inquiry. Unusually, the London Security firms also proposed terms to compensate customers that were defrauded by the cartel.  Separately, 6 individuals were given immunity from prosecution.

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