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Joiner Cartel: AFCA submits further applications to the Cartel Court

On 3 August 2022, the Federal Competition Authority (AFCA) filed three further applications for the imposition of fines on the companies Tischlerei Lechner GmbH, Krumböck GmbH as well as Josef Pirkl Gesellschaft m.b.H. u. Co. KG and Josef Pirkl Gesellschaft m.b.H. at the Cartel Court. This is part of the AFCA’s investigations in the area of construction and furniture carpentry.

Investigations by the AFCA

In 2019, the AFCA carried out dawn raids at several companies in the joinery/cabinetmaking sector based on information from the Vienna City Audit Office. The main reason was the suspicion that the companies had entered into agreements restricting competition in the course of awarding contracts. Particularly, public contracts in the health sector were affected.

The AFCA's investigations have confirmed the suspicion of conduct contrary to Cartel Law and have already led to final decisions against Fürst Möbel GmbH and Norer Tischlereigesellschaft m.b.H., both of which cooperated with the AFCA under the Leniency Program (see the AFCA's press releases of 17 May 2022 and 17 June 2022).

Additional applications for fines filed

Now, applications for the imposition of a fine of EUR 100,000 on Tischlerei Lechner GmbH and for the imposition of a fine of EUR 128,000 on Krumböck GmbH have been filed with the Cartel Court. Both companies acknowledged their involvement in the cartel court proceedings to the AFCA. This factor was taken into account in the calculation of the fine; along with the gravity and duration of the infringement, the degree of culpability and the economic capacity.

The AFCA initiated proceedings at the Cartel Court against Josef Pirkl Gesellschaft m.b.H. u. Co. KG and Josef Pirkl Gesellschaft m.b.H. and requested the imposition of an appropriate fine.

"The AFCA's cooperation with the Austrian Audit Offices serves as an international role model. We will consistently continue this cooperation in order to fully clarify violations in the awarding of contracts," says interim Director General Dr. Natalie Harsdorf-Borsch.

Fines for cartels

The Austrian Federal Cartel Act prohibits any behaviour that prevents or distorts competition. This covers price fixing agreements or the division of markets or territories. At the AFCA’s request, the Cartel Court may impose fines of up to 10% of an entity’s total turnover generated in the preceding business year if that entity is found to have breached the rules banning cartels. Fines are assessed on the basis of the gravity and duration of the breach, the degree of fault, and the economic strength and cooperation of the company concerned.