Now the next multi-million dollar fine was hailed. At the request of the BWB, the cartel court imposed a fine of 27.15 million euros on the construction company Swietelsky and found infringement by the key witness Kostmann, a Carinthian company, as the BWB announced on Tuesday. According to the information, the penalty was imposed Resolution of March 27, 2023 becomes legally binding on September 1, 2023. The construction company was charged with “a uniform and continuous violation of the antitrust ban in the form of price fixing, market sharing and information exchange with competitors in violation of antitrust law in relation to public and private tenders in the field of building and civil engineering in large parts of Austria in the period from at least July 2002 to October 2017” punished.
The BWB submitted the application for the imposition of this “reduced fine” against Swietelsky AG as well as the subsidiaries C. Peters Baugesellschaft mbH and Mittagale Baugesellschaft mbH (together “Swietelsky”) at the end of October of the previous year.
According to the information, Swietelsky had already approached the BWB in the summer of 2017 “soon after the first investigative actions and was subsequently the second Austrian construction company to cooperate continuously and comprehensively within the framework of the leniency program.” Swietelsky also made a comprehensive acknowledgment in which it accepted the BWB’s presentation of the facts and the amount of the fine and undisputedly acknowledged the BWB’s legal assessment, the BWB explained the reduced fine.
Kärntner Kostmann GesmbH escapes without a fine. In a decision dated June 20, 2023, the Vienna Higher Regional Court, as the antitrust court, found a violation of the antitrust ban by the company Kostmann GesmbH (iF “Kostmann”) at the request of the Federal Competition Authority. However, Kostmann had already submitted an application for leniency status in spring 2017 and cooperated continuously and comprehensively, so that the fine was completely waived. The cartel court’s decision is legally binding.
According to the BWB, Kostmann was involved in a uniform and continuous violation of anti-competitive agreements, customer and territory divisions as well as the exchange of competition-sensitive information with competitors in relation to public and private tenders in the field of civil engineering, particularly in relation to road construction, in the period of at least July 2002 to May 2017 involved.
According to the cartel watchdogs, due to the size of the company and Kostmann’s regional focus of activity, the direct involvement was “not to the same extent and extended primarily to Carinthia, Styria and Lower Austria.” In individual cases, other Austrian federal states were also affected, namely Vienna, Upper Austria and Burgenland.
The BWB has been investigating agreements in the construction industry for around six years now. It is the largest cartel in the agency’s history. The construction company Porr had to pay 62 million euros and Strabag 45 million euros.