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NMa imposes fines of almost EUR 3 million on ship-generated waste collection cartel

Three ship-generated waste collection companies based in the Dutch ports of Rotterdam, Schiedam, Vlaardingen and Maassluis have been imposed fines, totaling more than EUR 2.9 million, for cartel activities. They concluded price-fixing agreements, and shared work amongst each other, thereby eliminating competition. The NMa takes firm action against cartels, because they harm customers, which, in this case, are shipping companies that own ships. Henk Don, member of the Board of the Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa), explains: ‘With cartels, prices are generally higher than in a situation where companies compete for customers.’

In addition, cartels make participants lazy – after all, they do not need to fear any competition. Mr. Don adds: ‘And that, subsequently, affects the quality of the services they offer, and it is disastrous for innovation. You no longer need to think about how to outsmart your competitor.’

Shipping companies try to get the best price possible for waste collection by requesting offers from multiple waste collectors. These shipping companies were under the impression they were getting competitive offers, yet, between August 2005 and July 2007, the cartelists secretly harmonized their offers and decided amongst themselves who would get each job and at what price.

The NMa was able to track down this case thanks to the VROM Intelligence and Investigation Service (VROM-IOD) of the former Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning, and the Environment. This investigation agency had discovered this cartel through wiretaps. The Dutch Public Prosecution Service (OM) and VROM-IOD handed over to the NMa recordings of the wiretaps, as well as written documentation. On the basis of this evidence, the NMa launched its investigation in the summer of 2010, which included dawn raids.

  • Odfjell Terminals Maritiem B.V. (former AVR Maritiem B.V.), participated in the cartel since January 1, 2006, EUR 227,000; 
  • International Slop Disposal B.V. EUR 1,861,000; 
  • Ships Waste Oil Collector B.V. EUR 834,000.

On January 1, 2013, the NMa will merge with the Netherlands Consumer Authority and the Independent Post and Telecommunications Authority of the Netherlands (OPTA), creating a new authority: The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). This new authority aims to ensure that markets work in order to protect consumer interests. To this end, the ACM will focus on three main themes: consumer protection, industry-specific regulation, and competition oversight.

Objections and appeals can be filed against these fines imposed by the NMa.