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Court annuls building firms' cartel fine

THE BRATISLAVA Regional Court has annulled an Antitrust Office (PMÚ) decision from October 16, 2006 to fine six construction companies a record Sk1.349 billion (€44.78 million) for forming an illegal cartel.

THE BRATISLAVA Regional Court has annulled an Antitrust Office (PMÚ) decision from October 16, 2006 to fine six construction companies a record Sk1.349 billion (€44.78 million) for forming an illegal cartel.

The companies bid to construct an eight-kilometre-long section of the D1 highway between Mengusovce and Jánovce, the SITA newswire wrote on December 10.

The PMÚ had stated that the construction companies Skanska DS, Inžinierske Stavby, Strabag, Doprastav, Betamont, and Mota Engil coordinated the price of their bids in advance of the tender.

Court spokesman Pavol Adamčiak told SITA that the court cancelled the decision following an appeal by the six plaintiffs and returned the case to the antitrust authority for further procedure.

PMÚ is determined to appeal the regional court's verdict. According to Alexandra Bernáthová, the PMÚ’s spokesperson, the the case file clearly proves the companies’ cartel practice.

The PMÚ insists that neither the plaintiffs nor the court presented any new evidence or arguments that would negate the PMÚ's original conclusion that in the public procurement of construction of the highway section, the entities in question did not submit independent bids but, on the contrary, indices of unit prices of three consortiums showed above-standard concurrence that was the result of a cartel agreement.

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