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BUNKER INDEX :: Price Index, News and Directory Information for the Marine Fuel Industry
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Dutch regulator investigates bunker firms over 'possible' price fixing

13 Jul 2017 10:24 GMT

Dawn raids carried out as investigation focuses on companies active in Amsterdam, Antwerp and Rotterdam.



The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has launched an investigation into a "possible cartel in the bunker sector", with ACM stating that "several companies may have concluded illegal price-fixing agreements".

The investigation is currently focused on companies that are active in the ports of Amsterdam, Antwerp and Rotterdam - the world's third-biggest bunker port.

According to ACM, the Dutch Public Prosecution Service provided it with "valuable information about the bunker sector" that came from the police, which was "one of the reasons" for launching the investigation.

ACM says it has already conducted "several" dawn raids on bunker companies and that, in the coming months, it will be assessing whether the Dutch Competition Act has indeed been violated.

In order to do this, ACM says it will be investigating the business practices of bunker firms "in greater detail".

"In the end, ACM could also come to the conclusion that no violation has been committed. However, if a violation has been established, then the parties will be heard first before any violation can be established definitively, possibly followed by a sanction," ACM explained.

The Dutch regulator has called on the public and current and former employees in the bunker sector to share any information they may have regarding possible price fixing by calling +31 70 722 2000.

Fines for cartel activities in the Netherlands can be as high as 40 percent of global turnover. The maximum fine that has been imposed on individuals for exercising leadership in cartel-related activities is EUR 900,000.

Companies and individuals that form part of a cartel and take advantage of the country's leniency programme may qualify for reductions on their fines, ACM said.

Commenting on the issue of competition market dynamics in the maritime sector, ACM observed: "Fair competition will result in competitive prices, higher quality, and more innovation. For some time now, ACM has focused a great deal of attention on companies in the port sectors and the port-related transport sectors. Healthy competition in the ports will increase the competitiveness of Dutch companies, both home and abroad."






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