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 28 March 2022 for a finding of an infringement of § 1 para 1 of the Austrian Cartel Act (KartG) against the Lower Austrian company Fürst Möbel GmbH and its parent company (together referred to as “Fürst”) (see also AFCA’s press release of 30 March 2022).
Cartel Court finds Fürst infringed the law
The Cartel Court issued its decision, based on § 28 para. 1 in conjunction with para. 1a no. 1 KartG, on 10 June 2022 (28 Kt 1/22i), finding that Fürst Möbel GmbH and Fürst Holding GmbH had participated in a single and continuous infringement of § 1 para. 1 KartG during the period from July 2002 until March 2019; the infringement took the form of illegal price fixing, market divisions and the exchange of information with competitors, particularly by reaching agreement on the successful tenderer including submission of bogus offers in relation to calls for tenders for joinery/cabinetmaking contracts in the provinces of Vienna, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Styria and Tyrol. The decision is final.
Fürst is cooperating
Fürst applied for leniency and has since cooperated fully with the AFCA. The company was also the first to submit information and evidence that enabled the AFCA to expand its investigations (cf. § 11b para. 1 no. 3 lit a of the Competition Act – WettbG). The AFCA may refrain from imposing a fine if the company complies with all of the leniency programme’s criteria. The AFCA therefore refrained from imposing a fine on Fürst, only applying for a finding that it had participated in the cartel.
Economic sector concerned
Joinery and cabinetmaking services
Investigations conducted by AFCA in this industry so far
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 were suspected of having engaged in concerted practices in relation to public contracts in the health sector in particular. Further details about AFCA’s investigations in the joinery/cabinetmaking industry can be found in the press releases on the Authority’s applications of February 2022 and March 2022.
The AFCA will shortly be filing further applications for fines to be imposed on the other companies involved in the cartel.