Businesses that conclude illegal price-fixing agreements or that share markets (both of these are considered cartels) may be able to escape very high fines or get lower fines if they confess their involvement in a cartel to the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). The rules were recently changed, making it easier and more attractive for businesses and individuals to confess their involvement in a cartel.
What has changed?
Businesses and individuals that confess their involvement in a cartel to ACM may qualify for ‘leniency,’ which means that they may escape a fine altogether or receive a reduction of the fine. Two important changes in the rules have been implemented.
Businesses or individuals will not be imposed a fine if they are the first to report their cartel and satisfy the conditions, even if ACM has already tracked down that cartel. Until recently, such situations warranted a reduction of the fine between 60 and 100%. Immunity from fines is thus granted to the first one to come forward who satisfies the conditions, regardless of whether or not ACM has already launched an investigation into that cartel.
If another business or someone else has already reported the cartel, the second or following party to come forward may still qualify for a reduction of the fine. That party would then have to provide sufficient new and relevant information. The percentage bandwidths for the fine reductions have been expanded. The second one to come forward may receive a reduction between 30 and 50 percent, the third one 20 to 30 percent, while subsequent parties may receive a reduction of up to 20 percent. These percentages replace the previous bandwidth of 10-40 percent for everyone beyond the first one to come forward. With these new rules, the second one to report a cartel is thus able to receive a higher reduction than before.
Investigation based on tip-offs and detection efforts
ACM regularly receives leniency applications. Approximately half of the cartels that ACM penalizes have been reported by one of their participants. The other half is tracked down as a result of ACM’s own detection efforts or tip-offs. ACM constantly receives tip-offs and indications about cartels from citizens, businesses, and governmental bodies.
How to confess your involvement in a cartel
Confessing your involvement in a cartel is easy:
- Are you a consumer? Please submit your tip-off to ConsuWijzer . These tip-offs will be directly forwarded to ACM.
- Are you a business or an employee? Submit your tip-off by calling ACM’s number +31-70-7222-000 or by /en/contact/tip-offs-or-indications/tip-off/filling out the form on our website:
- Would you rather remain anonymous? You may submit your tip-off anonymously by calling our special intelligence unit at +31-70–7222-500
Are you involved in a cartel, and would you like to know more about leniency? Please contact our leniency officials directly by calling +31-70-7222-302 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. They will be happy to tell you more about your options. This can also be done confidentially.