The Federal Competition Authority is gradually working its way through the largest construction cartel in its history – now the next punishment follows. At the request of the BWB, the cartel court imposed a fine of 3.51 million euros on the construction company Gebrüder Haider, based in Großraming, as the competition authorities announced on Tuesday. The authority has been investigating extensive antitrust violations in the construction industry since 2017. Porr has already had to pay 62 million euros, Strabag 45 million and Swietelsky 27.15 million euros.
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According to the BWB, the latest decision is legally binding. Specifically, the three companies Gebrüder Haider Bauunternehmung Gesellschaft mbH, Gebrüder Haider & Co Hoch- und Tiefbau GmbH and Haider & Co Hoch- und Tiefbau GmbH (together “Gebrüder Haider”) are accused of price fixing, market sharing and information exchange with competitors in relation to public and private companies that violate antitrust law Tenders in the field of building and civil engineering in large parts of Austria. The antitrust offenses fall within the investigation period from April 2010 to October 2017 and July 2002 to October 2017.
There were illegal votes on future behavior when submitting offers and, in some cases, the formation of working and bidding groups that violated antitrust law. Among other things, the tender winner, the price to be submitted and the submission of “cover offers” were agreed between the companies involved or it was stipulated that certain competitors should not submit an offer at all.
The BWB said the investigation was still ongoing. There are a large number of construction projects throughout Austria, albeit to varying degrees depending on the company involved. The main area affected is road construction. In some cases, the proceedings have already been legally concluded.
The Haider brothers cooperated outside of the leniency program to clarify the facts with the Federal Competition Authority and the Federal Cartel Attorney and in this context gave a comprehensive acknowledgment of the proceedings before the Cartel Court.
According to the antitrust law, actions that hinder or distort competition are prohibited. These include price agreements or the division of markets or territories. In the event of a violation, the cartel court can, at the request of the BWB, impose fines of up to 10 percent of the total turnover in the previous financial year. The amount of the penalty depends on the severity and duration of the violation, the fault, the economic performance and the cooperation of the company concerned.