At the end of last year, the Competition Council (the CC) of Latvia adopted a decision and imposed a fine on the company SIA Interlux for failure to execute lawful requests during an investigation carried out by the CC. For irreversible deletion of information, thereby hindering the investigation of a case, the CC imposed a fine in the amount of EUR 13 175.30 on the company.
In order to gather evidence on alleged suspicion of a prohibited agreement between competitors on the procurement of the supply of medical equipment, the CC carried out a down raid on the premises of the company SIA Interlux. During the inspection of the employees’ computers, it was detected that, possibly, there is procurement documentation of a competitor on the company SIA Interlux server.
When the CC wanted to initiate the copying of information, it was detected that the information has been deleted during the down raid. Consequently, the CC was unable to obtain complete information from the company SIA Interlux server, which was necessary to obtain for an impartial determination of the circumstances and assessment of evidence of the case.
Māris Spička, the Head of the Executive Directorate of the CC: “Due to their concealed nature, cartels are violations, which are difficult to reveal; therefore, each counteraction, especially the destruction of evidence, is a very severe procedural violation. As a result of the conduct of SIA Interlux, the CC was prevented from an impartial inspection of information, possible evidence, thereby the investigation of the case was seriously hindered.”
Considering the facts of the case and severity of the violation, as well as the condition that the company management has expressed its regret regarding the procedural violation and has undertaken to develop a corporate competition rights compliance programme for internal use, a fine of EUR 13 175.30 was imposed on the company. The imposed fine shall be transferred into the state budget within 45 days.
The CC reminds companies an obligation of all companies to provide the CC with the required information, including business secrets, and to report on other facts that are known and may be significant in each particular case.
The Competition Law provides for liability in the case of failure to provide information and to comply with the lawful requests of the CC – a fine for such violations is determined in the amount of up to 1% of the net turnover of the last financial year of a company or association of companies.