NMa confirms investigation into two Amsterdam-based hospitals
The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) today confirmed that it carried out unannounced dawn raids this week at Sigra, the association of health-care providers in the Amsterdam area, and at two Amsterdam-based hospitals, the Academic Medical Center (AMC) and VU University medical center (VUmc). The NMa launched the investigation, among other reasons, because it had received tip-offs from patients, and because of a broadcast of a Dutch daily radio program covering health issues that had featured a story on these two Amsterdam hospitals allegedly turning down patients on the basis of their zip codes. The NMa is investigating whether these two hospitals have concluded mutual agreements regarding these practices, possibly under the umbrella of Sigra.
The NMa carries out dawn raids when it suspects the Dutch Competition Act is violated, for example, by price-fixing agreements, or by market sharing agreements. Purpose of these dawn raids is to collect information in order to determine whether or not the Act is indeed violated. Around 18 NMa officials were involved in the aforementioned raids. The fact that the NMa has carried out these unannounced dawn raids does not automatically mean that the companies concerned are guilty of anti-competitive behavior, and therefore does not prejudge the possible outcome of the investigation. Apart from examining the behaviors of the undertakings, the investigation also looks into possible involvement of natural persons. The NMa cannot comment on the current investigation's duration. The duration of an investigation usually depends on various factors, such as the complexity of the case, as well as the level of cooperation of the undertakings involved.
The investigation's procedure is as follows: should the NMa's investigation lead to the conclusion that there is indeed a reasonable presumption of a violation of the Competition Act, the NMa will draw up a report against the undertakings involved and/or the natural persons involved. In that case, the undertaking or natural person has the opportunity to defend itself/himself, both in writing or orally (at a hearing). Once the parties involved have been heard, the NMa will decide whether the presumed violation can be established as fact, and, if so, what sanction should be imposed on the undertakings or natural persons involved. These sanctions can be as high as ten per cent of the global turnover for undertakings, or €450,000 for natural persons.
Apply for leniency
Under the NMa's leniency program, cartel participants may be eligible for fine reduction. In addition, cartel facilitators or natural persons that have been involved in a cartel can also apply for leniency. More information on the NMa's leniency program can be found online at: Confess your cartel to the NMa's Leniency Office.
Indications and tip-offs
Indications and tip-offs that the NMa receives from individuals and undertakings concerning possible violations of the Dutch Competition Act, and preferably accompanied by supporting evidence, are highly appreciated. It is these indications and tip-offs that enable the NMa to increase its knowledge of a certain industry, and to track down possible violations. The NMa annually receives approximately 4,000 indications concerning possible violations of the Competition Act. More information on how to tip off the NMa or to report a violation can be found online at:
Businesses can submit tip-offs by contacting the NMa Information Line, by calling +31-70-330-1306 (open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.), or by e-mail to info [at] acm [punt] nl (info[at]acm[dot]nl).
If you are a consumer and would like to submit a tip-off or indication, please contact consumer information portal ConsuWijzer, a joint collaboration of the Netherlands Competition Authority, the Independent Regulator of Post and Electronic Communications in the Netherlands (OPTA), and the Dutch Consumer Authority, by calling (national rate): 088-0707070, or go to www.consuwijzer.nl.