For the first time ever and in line with recent EU case law, the NMa has fined a cartel facilitator for its contribution to the functioning of two public bid rigging cartels in the painting business. The cartel facilitator was fined EUR 17,000, whereas the nine participating painters received a total fine of EUR 164,000.5

In regard of the cartel facilitator, the NMa referred to last year’s judgment regarding consultancy firm AC Treuhand6. In this case, the Court of First Instance upheld the Commission’s decision that AC Treuhand had violated the cartel prohibition laid down in Article 81(1) EC even though it was not active on the relevant market and had not participated in the cartel, but had merely contributed to the implementation of the cartel by organising meetings and covering up evidence of the infringement.7

The NMa found that the cartel facilitator in the current case, an office that calculates and manages costs for a project, was similarly actively involved in the cartel by organising and attending meetings, drafting summaries of the agreements made and coordinating their implementation and should thus be fined accordingly.8