The Competition Board recently rendered its decision regarding 10 undertakings operating in the cement sector in the Eastern Anatolia, Southeastern Anatolia, Eastern Black Sea and Adana regions of Turkey. The board commenced its investigation against the undertakings in December 2011 in order to determine whether they had violated Article 4 of the Competition Law (which is akin to Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).
It was alleged that the undertakings had increased cement prices through an agreement. During its investigation, the board conducted on-site inspections (dawn raids) at the undertakings' premises. The board found one particular document of handwritten meeting minutes, as well as travel documents such as hotel reservations and plane tickets, which suggested that a meeting took place between the undertakings in relation to fixing cement prices and sharing customers.
The board compared the cement prices of the undertakings following the date on which the meeting took place and, to some extent, found parallels between the prices. Although this could have been caused by natural market conditions, and no further significant evidence of any further communication between the undertakings was found, the board decided that the undertakings had violated Article 4 of the law.
The board imposed fines totalling approximately TRY50 million (approximately €22 million) on the undertakings. Six of the undertakings received administrative fines amounting to 2% of their annual gross revenue and four received administrative fines amounting to 3% of their annual gross revenue, as at the end of the 2011 fiscal year.
The board's standards of proof were lower in this case than in previous cases relating to the cement sector. Once the board's reasoned decision has been published, it is expected to shed light on the board's latest approach to standards of proof in cartel cases within the sector.