site.btaCommission on Protection of Competition Begins Investigating for Cartels in Food Production and Trade
The Commission on Protection of Competition (CPC) institutes three proceedings to establish possible violations under Art. 15 of the Protection of Competition Act, in the form of prohibited agreements and decisions by associations of enterprises.
They affect participants at all levels of distribution in the food sector and their associations - Association for Modern Trade, Billa Bulgaria EOOD, Lidl Bulgaria EOOD & Co, Kaufland Bulgaria EOOD & Co, Maxima Bulgaria EOOD, Promarket EEOD, Fantastico Group and Metro Cash and Carry Bulgaria EOOD., Union of Poultry Breeders in Bulgaria, Association Association of Industrial Poultry Breeding, Association Of Milk Processors Bulgaria, and National Association of Dairy Processors.
In order to ensure the collection of sufficient direct evidence of the existence of possible secret agreements between the participants in the food sector, after receiving court authorizations from the Administrative Court in Sofia region, the CPC, with the assistance of Interior Ministry, carried out surprise on-site inspections at the offices of Lidl Bulgaria, the Union of Poultry Breeders in Bulgaria and the National Association of Dairy Processors.
Copies of documents and electronic correspondence were confiscated from the offices, which the CPC is yet to analyze in detail for the existence of exchanges of commercially sensitive information or coordinated market behavior between producers, traders and their associations in the food trade sector. The scale and standards of proof of such antitrust violations require the CPC to establish a large amount of data and information on the basis of which to perform an economic and legal analysis of the conduct in question, which objectively cannot be carried out in an urgent manner.
Despite the large-scale investigation, in view of the public interest, the CPC will do its best to reach results as soon as possible. In the case of established violations, the CPC will exercise its legal powers, including sanctioning the violators, the announcement reads.
The CPC is an independent body that has full operational independence regarding the means of gathering evidence and the ways of implementing them within the framework of its legal powers, and interference in its work is completely inadmissible, the antimonopoly body also stated.