ACM confirms cartel investigation into tender processes
The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has launched a cartel investigation into a large tender market. Information about this investigation came to light after a ruling of the District Court of The Hague (in Dutch). ACM assesses, among other things, whether competitors have concluded market-sharing agreements.
Ongoing effort to clean up the tender markets
ACM believes it is important that the competitive process in tender processes (big and small) are fair. Fair competition leads to competitive prices, higher quality, and more innovation. Chris Fonteijn, Chairman of the Board of ACM, explains: “ACM leads an ongoing effort to clean up the tender markets. A lot of money is involved in tender processes. For example, public procurement involves EUR 136 billion annually. ACM has indications that, in various sectors, public tenders continue to be manipulated. In most cases, such violations can only be uncovered if individuals report them. Offenders carefully try to cover their tracks for ACM. That is why we recently also carried out dawn raids.”
Recent rulings by the highest court
Competitors are not allowed to have contact with each other about their planned bids. They are also not allowed to share bid prices. This year, the Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (CBb), which is the highest court in antitrust matters in the Netherlands, ruled in favor of ACM in cases involving tender processes in the home care and demolition sectors.
Do you have information about a cartel?
ACM welcomes all tips and indications about possible cartels. Do you have information about a cartel? Please contact ACM and share you information in confidence by calling +31-70-722-2000 or anonymously by calling +31-6-484-182-12.
Are you involved in a cartel yourself?
If you have concluded illegal agreements with competitors yourself, you can also report this. If you contact ACM early enough, ACM may decide not to impose a fine or to lower such a fine considerably. For more information, please contact +31-70-722-2302.
Find out more about what is and what is not allowed in tender processes
Find out more about the decisions of the Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (CBb)
ACM imposed fines on multiple demolition firms because they had violated the prohibition of cartels. In several tenders, these demolition firms engaged in cover pricing: they exchanged information about their intended tender before the tender process, among which was their tender price. They did this because one of them did not want to win the tender, but did want to stay in the client’s picture for future tenders. Due to cover pricing, this tenderer was able to make a higher bid, without risking winning the tender. The Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (CBb) has confirmed that this behavior constitutes cover pricing. The CBb, together with ACM, is of the opinion that cover pricing is harmful for competition. Moreover, it could lead to price increases.
- More information about the ruling involving the cartel of demolition firms (in Dutch)
- Read more about the ruling involving the cartel in home care (in Dutch)
ACM imposed fines on two home care service providers that had shared information about their bidding and pricing policies in five tender processes involving domestic help. The CBb has confirmed that this behavior constitutes a violation of the cartel prohibition.