Findings of the investigation
Recommendations of the authority


In July 2009(1) the Competition Authority started a preliminary investigation into domestic public procurement of new auto vehicles. The investigation's findings appear to have resulted largely from irregularities in the bidding documents, as identified by the authority staff during the execution of its bid proceedings.

The authority found evidence that several of the companies operating in the domestic auto procurement market had established concerted practices that would potentially constitute prohibited agreements under the Law on the Protection of Competition (9121/2003). The authority therefore started an in-depth investigation into certain undertakings operating in this market,(2) for business transactions that took place between January 1 2007 and December 20 2009.

During the in-depth investigation proceedings, the authority analysed the concerted practices of the undertakings under investigation, based on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development guidelines for fighting bid rigging in public procurement.(3)

Findings of the investigation

The authority found that the domestic auto procurement market was characterised by a small number of undertakings and that bid rotation schemes and cover bidding schemes were applied. It additionally identified evidence of relationships between bidders before and after the conclusion of the bid proceedings.

The authority further found that detailed information related to respective bid prices and technical specifications had been exchanged between investigated undertakings, and that joint teams of employees dedicated to the reparation of bidding documents had been established. In several cases, bidding documents that had been submitted by different bidders were found to include significant similarities. For example:

  • certificates issued by public institutions in relation to different bidders, which are part of the compulsory bidding file, had consecutive protocol issuance numbers;
  • bidding documents had the same font, formatting and spelling mistakes; and
  • bid bonds for separate bidders were issued on the same date, with consecutive protocol numbers, by the same insurance company.

There has now been a significant step forward in the use of electronic communications by the authority as a basis for its findings. In practice, Albanian courts and other public administrations are reluctant to use electronic communications as a basis for their findings and generally tend to identify evidence as solid only on production of signed and stamped hardcopy documents.


As a result of the in-depth investigation, the authority declared that the practices under investigation were anti-competitive(4) and applied fines for serious infringements of the Competition Law. Under Article 74(1),(5) these amounted to between 2% and 10% of the turnover of the preceding business year for each participating undertaking.(6)

Fines applied to different undertakings ranged from around €20,000 to around €180,000. However, the authority did not specify which percentage of the turnover it had used as a reference for the application of the fines; nor did it explain its grounds for the application of either minimum or maximum fine values. This decision may therefore be subject to a court review on the proportionality of the fines.

Recommendations of the authority

In addition to market surveillance functions, the Competition Law grants consultative functions to the authority for the enactment of legislation that affects the establishment of a competitive market.

Following the review of the in-depth investigation, the Competition Authority Commission approved the decision on recommendations for avoidance of agreements in bids for public procurement.(7) The commission also resolved to recommend to the Public Procurement Agency, the Council of Ministers and the Albanian Parliament an amendment to the Law on Public Procurement (9643/2006), by excluding from public bids those undertakings that had been declared by the authority as participating in prohibited agreements, for a term of one to three years.

Finally, the authority recommended the adoption of guidelines for the identification of bid-rigging schemes in public procurement regulation. Procuring officers also should be trained in the identification of bid-rigging schemes and obliged to inform the authority (and other competent bodies) where appropriate.

Due to the reported difficulty on enforcing fines for anti-competitive behaviour, the interlocution of the above proposals may be an effective method for fighting prohibited agreements and concerted practices in public procurement bids.

For further information on this topic please contact Shpati Hoxha at Hoxha Memi & Hoxha by telephone (+355 4 227 4558), fax (+355 4 224 4047) or email ([email protected]).


(1) Competition Secretariat Decision 246 "On the start of preliminary investigation on the market of procurement of new auto vehicles" (dated July 8 2009), as amended by Decision 260 of July 21 2009.

(2) Competition Authority Commission Decision 135 "On the start of in-depth investigation on the market of procurement of new auto vehicles" (dated December 21 2009).


(4) Competition Authority Commission Decision 154, dated October 1 2010.

(5) Law 10317, amending the Law on the Protection of Competition (9121/2003), was published in the Official Gazette (135/2010) on October 7 2010 and entered into force on October 22 2010.

(6) Based on the new text of Article 74, the minimum threshold of 2% of the turnover of the preceding business year has been lifted, and thus the authority may now apply lower values of serious fines, starting from 1% (the maximum for non-serious infringements) of the turnover of the preceding business year.

(7) Competition Authority Commission Decision 158, dated November 12 2010.