STA, 4 February 2019 - Three Slovenian coach companies have been fined nearly EUR 3.1m by the Competition Protection Agency due to collusion in a 2010 public tender for intercity passenger services, with three more left off the hook for cooperating with the competition watchdog.
Deutsche Bahn subsidiary Arriva Alpetour, industry consolidator Nomago and Integral Brebus, a smaller firm operating out of Brežice, have been ordered to pay the fine.
The coach operators were found to have rigged a public tender by submitting bids for individual concession areas, avoiding outbidding each other.
Indeed, it was discovered that they had agreed in a series of meetings and email exchanges how they would subcontract individual services to each other so that they retained their market shares.
The public tender was cancelled because the bids were too high.
Three other operators - Arriva Štajerska, Arriva Dolenjska in Primorska and Veolia Ljubljana - escaped fines totalling almost a million euro by working with the agency and providing additional evidence about collusion.
This is the first example of the agency being lenient on violators of competition rules in Slovenia.
"The point of the leniency programme is to motivate the participants of a cartel to work with the agency in the detection of actions that represent one of the worst forms of the restriction of competition," the agency said.
The law stipulates that companies engaging in anti-competitive behaviour may receive fines of up to 10% of their turnover, depending on the gravity of the offence.
The three companies that received fines have announced appeals, which will be processed by the Ljubljana Local Court, but an interim decision in which the agency proved the existence of collusion is already final.