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NMa fines three taxi firms and six executives for cartel activities

Dutch taxi firm RMC together with rival firms IJsselsteden and BIOS engaged with each of them separately in bid-rigging arrangements involving taxi services in the greater Rotterdam area, which, according to the NMa, fall under the cartel prohibition. These firms rigged bids for contracts for transporting students, seniors, disabled individuals, and the sick.

RMC was involved in both arrangements, and was imposed two fines: EUR 4,564,000 and EUR 3,741,000. The business units of rival firm BIOS that were involved were collectively fined EUR 643,000. The NMa imposed a much smaller fine of EUR 1,000 on IJsselsteden, because it went bankrupt in November 2010. Considering the role that six executives at these three firms played in these violations, they were each imposed an individual fine of up to EUR 120,000.

Chris Fonteijn, Chairman of the Board of the NMa, reacts: ´A tender procedure is the time when firms can and should compete with one another to secure contracts. So if two taxi firms decide in advance which of them gets a contract in their area, they effectively eliminate competition. Their clients have fewer options, and they are given a misleading picture of the actual situation in the market.´

RMC and IJsselsteden agreed on defining ´home markets,´ which each of them would respect. For various situations, they made arrangements on which of them was allowed to contact what clients, and when they would sit down and discuss whether or not to submit bids. Moreover, RMC and IJsselsteden agreed to decline any offers from competitors to be their subcontractors. This latter arrangement lasted from December 18, 2007 until August 27, 2010.

RMC, BIOS and a joint subsidiary agreed not to place competing bids in tender procedures in the greater Rotterdam area where one of these three firms was already active. They additionally agreed to hold joint meetings in order to, among other things, share contracts amongst themselves prior to the relevant tender procedures. This shorter arrangement lasted from April 17, 2009 until March 1, 2011.

The fines were imposed in separate NMa fining decisions, dated 20 November 2012. Virtually all parties have filed objections against these decisions. After objection proceedings, parties still have the option of filing appeals against these decisions.