Leniency Program collaboration exempts Seguradoras Unidas from payment of fine

​Press Release 01/2019
Leniency Program collaboration exempts Seguradoras Unidas from payment of fine
Seguradoras Unidas was the only insurance company to gain full exemption of a fine in the cartel proceedings instituted by the Portuguese Competition Authority (Autoridade da Concorrência - AdC) against five insurance companies. The exemption was due to the fact that Seguradoras Unidas was the first company to come forward under the Leniency Program and present the AdC with proof of participation in the cartel.
The AdC Leniency Program includes a special regime of exemption or reduction of fines in cartel proceedings undertaken by the AdC. The first company that brings forward evidence of a cartel in which it has participated can be granted full exemption of the fine if it cooperates fully in the investigation and if it was not the instigator of the cartel. Subsequent participants in the Leniency Program may be granted progressively smaller reductions of fines.
In August 2018, the AdC accused five insurers of cartel practices in insurance contracts for large business clients in the categories of workplace accident, health and auto insurance. The practices had begun in 2010 and involved 5 insurance companies, with the direct involvement of 14 members of the companies’ Boards and management.
The Statement of Objections named the insurers Fidelidade – Companhia de Seguros, S.A., Lusitania – Companhia de Seguros, S.A., Multicare – Seguros de Saúde, S.A., Seguradoras Unidas, S.A. and Zurich Insurance PLC – Portugal Branch, as well as the respective Board members and managers that had participated in setting up and implementing the cartel.
The investigation was formally initiated in May 2017, following the leniency request presented to the AdC by Seguradoras Unidas.
In June and July 2017, the AdC conducted dawn raids at the premises of the suspected insurers, in the Lisbon metropolitan area.
Of these, Fidelidade and Multicare were fined a total of 12 million euros in December 2018, for participation in the cartel. Nonetheless, these firms benefitted from a reduction of the fine in terms of the Leniency Program, as well as for having participated in a settlement procedure with the AdC.
In a settlement procedure, firms admit fault and agree to waive their right to continue with judicial proceedings, thus permitting cases to be concluded more rapidly.
Regarding the other two firms (Lusitania and Zurich) and their respective office-bearers, the case continues.
The Competition Law expressly prohibits cartels, which are agreements between firms that restrict competition, by their nature and in a significant manner, in all or part of the national market, thereby reducing the welfare of citizens and firms.
Fighting cartels continues to be a top priority of the AdC’s activity.
Non-compliance with the rules of competition not only reduces consumer welfare but also harms the competitiveness of firms, thus penalising the economy as a whole.
13 February 2019