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Fined firms can still work on public deals

THE ANTITRUST Bureau has announced fines against the construction firms which formed a cartel agreement while competing for the construction of a stretch of highway from Mengusovce to Jánovce.

The fines given to the six companies total Sk1.349 billion (€40 million) making it the highest fine the bureau has ever imposed. The companies concerned are Skanska DS, Inžinierske Stavby, Strabag, Doprastav, Betamont, and Mota Engil. The Mota Engil, Strabag, and Skanska DS companies received the highest fines (Sk418.18 million, Sk367.73 million, and Sk270.50 million respectively), the Sme daily wrote.

The bureau considered the nearly identical prices in the companies' bids as critical evidence of a cartel agreement. The bureau also proved that the firms communicated with each other about a price for this stretch of highway. The bureau started the procedure after the National Highway Company (NHC), which had originally announced the tender, filed a motion. The NHC stopped the competition shortly after opening the bids because it suspected the companies had made an agreement.

However, the companies may still participate in similar tenders in the future. Marcel Jánošík, a NHC spokesman, said it could be an ethical problem but it is not possible to stop the companies from doing so.

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