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Cartel Court fines Krumböck GmbH as requested by AFCA

In the course of its investigations into the joinery/cabinetmaking industry, the Austrian Federal Competition Authority (AFCA) filed an application with the Cartel Court on 3 August 2022 to impose a fine of EUR 128,000 on the company Krumböck GmbH.

The Cartel Court issued its decision on 5 October 2022, fining Krumböck GmbH the amount of EUR 128,000 as requested by the AFCA due to involvement in illegal price fixing, market divisions and the exchange of information with competitors. The company had colluded with its competitors to agree which bidder should be awarded the contract in relation to various calls for tenders for joinery/cabinetmaking jobs (including in the health sector) in Vienna and Lower Austria. This had involved regularly submitting bogus offers. The infringements covered the period from July 2013 to May 2019.

Krumböck GmbH cooperated with the AFCA outside the leniency programme to completely clarify the facts of the case, and also acknowledged the infringement for use in proceedings before the Cartel Court. The AFCA therefore applied for a markedly reduced fine.

The decision is final.

Economic sector concerned

Joinery and cabinetmaking services

Investigations conducted by AFCA in the joinery/cabinetmaking industry to date

After the City of Vienna Court of Audit had drawn the AFCA’s attention to the matter, the Authority carried out dawn raids at several companies engaged in the joinery/cabinetmaking business in 2019. These companies had allegedly engaged in concerted practices in relation to public contracts in the health sector in particular.

AFCA’s investigations confirmed that anti-competitive conduct had occurred, with final decisions in relation to the companies Fürst Möbel GmbH and Norer Tischlereigesellschaft m.b.H. already having been issued. Both of these companies cooperated with the AFCA under the leniency programme.

Two further proceedings to determine fines are currently still pending at the Cartel Court; the companies affected in this case are Josef Pirkl Gesellschaft m.b.H. u. Co. KG and Josef Pirkl Gesellschaft m.b.H.

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.