FAS PRESENTED THE “BIG DIGITAL CAT” PROJECT TO THE COLLEAGUES FROM BRAZIL AND SOUTH AFRICA
On 9 - 10 March 2020, Brasilia, the Federative Republic of Brazil hosted the second session of BRICS Contact Group on Cartels. The event was attended by representatives of the antimonopoly regulators from Brazil, Russia and South Africa
FAS delegation included Deputy Head of FAS Anti-Cartel Department Anton Teslenko and Head of the Analytical Unit, FAS Information-and-Technical Center, Konstantin Yegorov.
The participants discussed in detail use of software for exposing anticompetitive agreements and development of a Russian project – “Big Digital Cat” and technological capabilities of a similar Brazil project “Cerebro”, which has been in use by Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defense for already several years to expose bid-rigging cartels.
The Competition Commission of South Africa has also started developing a similar screening program and intends to adopt the experience of Russian and Brazilian colleagues in this field.
Then the session participants discussed the issues of exposing and investigating the so-called “digital collusion” where members of such agreements used various technical means (auction robots and price algorithms).
“Unfair market participants use various computer programs increasingly more often to pursue anticompetitive agreements at auctions and tenders. Recently, Russian antimonopoly bodies have investigated nearly two dozens cases with a digital element and year-to-year FAS has more such cases in its practice”, pointed out Deputy Head of FAS Anti-Cartel Department Anton Teslenko.
“Several years ago participants of anticompetitive agreements typically applied “legitimate” software solutions to their own ends; now both FAS and our foreign colleagues face software with knowingly harmful functionalities, aimed exclusively at fulfilling anticompetitive practices, so exchanging experiences of exposing and suppressing such agreements as well as establishing legal positions for use of various software products by auction and tender participants is essential for us”, added the speaker.
At the end of the mission, representatives of the antimonopoly authorities of Russia, Brazil and South Africa stated that the work undertaken by BRICS Contact Group on Cartels not only facilitates exchanging experience on developing state-of-the-art technological programs but also has a positive effect upon investigations of anticompetitive agreements in the BRICS space, particularly, digital ones.
BRICS Contact Group on Cartels is formed to fulfill the arrangements reached by Heads of BRICS competition authorities during the meeting of the BRICS Coordination Committee on Antimonopoly Policy on 18 September 2019 in Moscow. The objectives of BRICS Contact Group on Cartels are to discuss particular cases for joint investigations in the BRICS space and to improve the existing and develop new mechanisms for exposing anticompetitive agreements. BRICS Contact Group on Cartels performs its activities through joint telephone consultations and face-to-face encounters (the so-called “missions”) at the level of senior officers and experts of international and anti-cartel units of BRICS competition authorities, engaging case-handlers and, when possible, developers of special programs and algorithms for exposing digital cartels.