AdC imposes fines of €12 million on insurance companies for cartel settlement

Press release 22/2018
 
AdC imposes fines of €12 million on insurance companies for cartel settlement
 
The Portuguese Competition Authority (Autoridade da Concorrência – AdC) imposed fines in the total amount of €12 million on the insurers Fidelidade – Companhia de Seguros  and Multicare – Seguros de Saúde for market sharing. The anticompetitive conduct covered insurance contracts purchased by large corporate clients, in the segments of occupational, health and car accident insurances.

The AdC’s investigation was initiated in May 2017 following leniency applications by companies involved in the cartel. The antitrust practices begun in 2010 and involved 5 insurance companies with the participation of 14 managers and directors of the companies.

In June and July of 2017, the AdC conducted dawn raids in the companies’ premises, located in the region of Lisbon. In 21 of August of 2018 the AdC issued a Statement of Objections against the insurance companies Fidelidade – Companhia de Seguros, Lusitania – Companhia de Seguros, Multicare – Seguros de Saúde, Seguradoras Unidas, S.A. (ex-Tranquilidade and Açoreana) and Zurich Insurance PLC – Sucursal Portugal for a price fixing and market sharing cartel.
Fidelidade and Multicare acknowledged their involvement in the cartel and agreed to settle the case.

In setting the amount of the fines, the AdC took into account all the relevant factual and legal aspects, including the cooperation provided by Fidelidade and Multicare, and the fact that no specific advantages had been quantified in terms of potential supracompetitive profits arising from the anticompetitive agreement.

With regard to the three other companies investigated, against which the AdC adopted the Statement of Objections (SO), the proceeding continues, as well as for 9 of the 14 managers and directors of the companies, to which this SO was addressed.

The leniency program foresees the possibility to grant immunity or reduction of fines to cartel participants in AdC’s proceedings. In order to obtain total immunity a company which participated in a cartel must be the first to inform the AdC of an undetected cartel. Other companies may also benefit from a reduction of the fine.

The Portuguese Competition Law prohibits cartels, as agreements between undertakings which significantly restrict, by their very nature or object, competition in whole or in part of the national market, thus reducing citizens and companies’ welfare.

The fight against cartels continues to be the top priority of AdC's activities.
The infringement of competition rules not only reduces consumer welfare, but also weakens the companies´ competitiveness, undermining the economy as a whole.
 
 
 28 December 2018