Dutch competition authority ACM investigates possible cartel in bunker industry

14 July 2017

The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) is investigating the bunker industry. ACM confirmed this in a press release dated 12 July 2017.

ACM launched its investigation into the bunker sector after the Public Prosecution service provided ACM with police information about the bunker sector. The ACM suspects that bunker companies have made illegal price arrangements. The ACM will further investigate the behavior in the bunker sector during the coming period. It is not clear which specific bunker companies are subject to the cartel investigation.

ACM’s investigation is part of its wider approach to target the ports and transport sector. The ports and transport sector has been a (high) priority of ACM’s 2016-2017 agenda. A month ago, ACM sent a letter to 3,500 companies in the ports and transport sector, in which it informed the undertakings about the competition rules. ACM also developed its own Cartel Test for these companies by which they can self-assess whether their behavior may be in violation of the cartel prohibition.

ACM has stressed that the investigation does not necessarily imply that the bunker companies have violated the cartel prohibition. It may take a while before we know whether sanctions will be imposed. If ACM concludes that the competition rules have been violated, it will send a (draft) report (statement of objections) to the companies concerned. The companies will be given the opportunity to respond to the allegations. Afterwards, ACM will decide whether there is sufficient ground to impose fines (or whether the investigation will be ceased). If the investigation results in a fine, appeal proceedings are open for the respective companies.

More information can be found here.