IGOR ARTEMIEV: COUNTERING CARTELS HAS BECOME A PRIORITY FOR FAS AND THE GOVERNMENT
The vector is formalized legislatively by Orders and Instructions of the President of the Russian Federation, including 2018-2020 National Competition Development Plan
Head of FAS Igor Artemiev discussed the issue at a meeting with a member of Collegium (Minister) for competition and antimonopoly regulation and Heads of antimonopoly authorities form the member-states of the Eurasian Economic Union on 16 February 2018.
Andrey Tenishev, Head of FAS Anti-Cartel Department, discussed in detail legislative changes. He pointed out that to tighten liability for cartel and apply preventative measures to counter them the Criminal Code and the antimonopoly law of the Russian Federation should be harmonized, a Register of anticompetitive agreement participants should be kept, amendments to combat “digital” cartels should be passed, and other regulatory steps made.
He emphasized: “The Government is considering a draft law which assigns the bodies, performing investigative operations, the right to transfer cartel materials to FAS. The same draft law increases by orders the income and damages thresholds for criminal liability for cartels. It will relieve small cartels from administrative liability and the punishment for them will be administrative fines, albeit rather big”.
Talking about cartels, he stressed that the scope of public procurement in 2017 reached over 23 billion RUB, i.e., around 30% GDP.
“FAS estimates that damages from cartels in this field reach 1.5 – 2% GDP”, added Andrey Tenishev.
He stated that 2017 had demonstrated an upward trend for criminal cases opened for restricting competition. For instance, in 2017 9 cases were initiated under Article 178 of the Criminal Code (in 2016 – 3 cases).
Discussing FAS methods to counter anticompetitive agreements, Andrey Tenishev mentioned that “developing electronic economy and cartels moving to the “digital” sphere requires new methods of exposing violations”.
To efficiently counter “digital” anticompetitive agreements, FAS devised and implemented a multi-parameter monitoring system to expose bid-rigging.
He summed up: “It is a technology-intensive, convenient method enabling real-time cartel exposure from a work computer, the system was tested in 2017 at FAS Centre for Education and Methodics in Kazan, around 40 bid-rigging incidents were exposed”, commented Head of FAS Anti-Cartel Department. “The system also increased the number of exposed bid-rigging cartels and the quality of such work. The share of procurement cartels exposed using this method is about 80-85%”.
The parties emphasized efficiency of FAS anti-cartel efforts. The best practices of the Russian Federation will be adopted by the antimonopoly authorities of the member-states of the Eurasian Economic Union.