FAS to prioritise cartels and markets of social significance in 2014

29.01.2014

Russia's competition authority, the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) among other things will prioritise cartels and antitrust investigations in markets of social significance in 2014, Andrey Tenishev the head of the cartel division at FAS, told PaRR.

Consumer sectors such as food and fuel have always been closely monitored by FAS, said Nikolay Voznesenskiy, head of competition practice at Goltsblat BLP, the Russian practice of Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP.

In 2014, FAS will continue investigating high profile cases initiated last year, such an investigation into an alleged container shipping cartel, predicted a Moscow based competition lawyer.

Last November, FAS opened a probe into alleged antitrust violations by major ocean container shippers, including SC Maersk, Mediterranean Shipping Company Rus, CMA CGM Rus, APL CIS, K Line RUS, NICK Line Rus, OOCL Russia Limited, China Shipping Agency Russia, Hyundai Merchant Marine CIS, JSC ZIM Russia, Cosco Russia, Evergreen Shipping Agency Limited Russia, Ocean Container Services, and Ocean Container Services MSK.

FAS committee will hold its first meeting on these proceedings in February 2014.

The container shipping probe is one of investigations into international cartels that FAS is conducting, Tenishev confirmed to PaRR. “It is too early to reveal information about other cases”, he said.

FAS will continue to strengthen and expand its international cooperation, Tenishev said.

FAS may also initiate new investigations in the markets of car sales and car services, expected Evgeny Bolshakov of Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners’ antitrust practice adding that the sector has attracted FAS attention for some time.

On 15 January FAS noted that Uralsib financial corporation and Volkswagen Bank RUS have acted on a warning from the regulator and ended a cartel in the car loan sector. This year FAS is also planning to further perfect the legislative basis for cartel enforcement: FAS has already proposed amendments to eliminate the discrepancy in cartel definitions in the Russian competition law and the country’s criminal code.

Another FAS priority for 2014, according to Tenishev, is to create unanimous competition law enforcement and contribute to consistent court practice across in all 83 regions in Russia.

In each region, there is a local FAS department and a local commercial court, he explained. FAS organises trainings and seminars for its regional offices, said Tenishev adding that the authority has recently opened an educational centre in Kazan. FAS also has an educational exchange programme with its
counterparts.

The presidium of the country’s Supreme Arbitration Court has recently taken a precedent decision on how to assess evidence of anticompetitive agreements including the position that electronic correspondence should be used as proof in antitrust proceedings, he noted. This could facilitate more coherent court practice in different
regions.

FAS also plans to cooperate more with other authorities such as the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Investigative Committee of Russia, said Tenishev.

by Natalia Lapotko in London

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