On 28 August 2014, the German Federal Cartel Office (“Bundeskartellamt”) imposed a total fine of € 17.4 m on five specialized mining contractors for price-fixing and bid-rigging. Proceedings were initiated by an investigation in April 2013 following an application under the Leniency Notice of a further contractor. The latter was not fined due to the Leniency Programme of the Bundeskartellamt.
The companies had allocated future orders in advance in order to avoid price wars in the course of tendering procedures in two different complexes:
The first case involved the conversion of the former iron ore mine “Konrad” close to Salzgitter into a repository for the disposal of radioactive waste. In this instance, lots for mining works worth € 110 m were intended to be awarded by the German Company for the Construction and Operation of Repositories (Deutsche Gesellschaft zum Bau und Betrieb von Endlagern für Abfallstoffe – DBE GmbH, Peine) in 2011. According to the Bundeskartellamt, the companies agreed upon the allocation of certain lots as well as on the amount of tender offers (and “cover quotes”) during the bidding phase.
Further, in a meeting in a hotel in Gladbeck in 2008, competitors agreed that they would avoid price wars for orders in relation to specialized mining works by RAG Deutsche Steinkohle AG. The competitors agreed to coordinate their orders by this customer and also allocated quotas for the contracts to be awarded. From October 2010 to November 2012, the competitors agreed upon the allocation of more than 30 projects in several coal mines with a net order volume of approximately € 80 m.
The fines are not yet final and can be appealed to the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court.