REPRESENTATIVES OF FAS, PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE AND BUSINESS ON COUNTERING ANTICOMPETITIVE COLLECTIVE BEHAVIOUR
On 8 February 2019, representatives of business, authorities and academic community met at the International Research-to-Practice Conference on “Antimonopoly regulation of collective conduct of economic entities on the markets” to discuss interdepartmental collaboration on suppressing anticompetitive agreements, judicial practice of investigating such cases and control over collective conduct to create conditions for fair competition.
Deputy Head of FAS Legal Department Yulia Abakumova reviewed judicial practice on cartel cases. She pointed out: "The Supreme Court believes that the fact of an anticompetitive agreement can be proved, particularly, with totality of evidence, including actual conduct of economic entities”.
Head of Karelia OFAS, Artur Pyrakhin, described a “milk cartel”, the so-called “buyers cartel” that determines the supplier prices. He presented a practice of investigating cases against “Slavmo” and “Olonets Milk Works” that together controlled around 70% of the market.
He emphasized: “It concerned uniformed behaviour of economic entities. We studied product pricing and saw that from August 2013 these enterprises, being competitors, rejected individual conduct. Prices were identical for all raw materials, which included the dates of fixing the prices. Thus, the companies’ actions were recognized unfair and violating the Federal Law “On Protection of Competition”. The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation drew a line in the judicial proceedings, supporting OFAS position”.
Head of Leningrad OFAS, Alexander Pleteshkov, presented practices of countering anticompetitive collective conduct of economic entities on the markets.
First Vice-President of “Siberian Cement” Holding Company” JSC, Valery Bodrenkov, discussed aspects of antimonopoly regulation in evaluating collective conduct of economic entities on the cement markets.
A representative of St Petersburg Prosecutor’s Office – Head of a Unit of Enforcement of the Laws on Protecting the Interests of the State and the Society, Olga Stepanova in her report on the issues of prosecution-and-investigation practices in exposing and suppressing cartels, highlighted that efforts to counter cartels are a priority for the law enforcement bodies in accord with the goals set by the president of Russia.
Head of FAS Fiscal Control Department, Vladimir Mishelovin, pointed out that on the contrary, collective conduct of economic entitles on strictly regulated markets can facilitate fair competition.
He clarified: “Participants of tobacco and alcohol market are united in unions and self-regulated organizations that are actively using the potential of discussion under the frame of Expert Councils at the authorities and the State Duma, first of all to establish reasonable regulation of such sectors and solving the issues of under-regulation or its full absence, for instance, turnover of innovative means of tobacco consumption. Such collective conduct is dictated by the need to search the balance of interests between the state, companies and consumers”.
Summing up the Conference results, Aleftina Timoshenoko, an assistant to Head of FAS and Head of the Department of Legal Protection of Economic Competition, St Petersburg State University, who moderated the last session, insisted on the importance of further detailed discussion on the practice of antimonopoly regulation over vertical agreements.