Latvian Competition Council investigates another potential construction cartel

Latvian Competition Council has suspicions of a possible tender coordination among some of the biggest road construction companies in the country. Searches were performed at five companies this summer, as confirmed by TV3 programme Nekā personīga on Sunday, 26 September.
Searches sanctioned by Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court were performed at five companies: A.C.B. Group member AS A.C.B, SIA Binders, AS Ceļu pārvalde, SIA Strabag and SIA Saldus ceļinieks.
The court details in the ruling regarding the searches that the aforementioned road construction companies may have exchanged sensitive commercial information and had coordinated their participation in tenders organized by Latvian State Roads and Riga City Council Transport Department. The exact period of time during which the prohibited agreement may have been taking place is not mentioned. The ruling also mentions two other road construction companies – A.C.B. Group’s 8 CBR and YIT Infra Latvija owned by Finnish entrepreneurs.
All seven companies suspected of taking part in prohibited and competition-restricting activities among the biggest road and bridge construction companies in Latvia.
Estimates from Nekā personīga for the last six years show that participants of the potential road construction cartel had taken part in procurement projects worth EUR 2 367 878 466.
The biggest procurement project organized by Latvian State Roads was for the road along the Riga-Sigulda-Estonian border. This tender was won by A.C.B. and Binders. The price of the procurement was EUR 38 million.
According to the programme, Riga City Council Transport Department’s procurement for the construction of a railway overpass for Riga-Skulte railway line and access roads also seems suspicious. There were two candidate there as well. The winner was the association that includes Binders. The other participant was an association that included A.C.B. It is added that the latter had forgotten to add technical specifications to their offer. The price of the contract was EUR 35 million.
Competition Council chairman Juris Gaiķis refrains from commenting this situation. «Our claim may cause massive losses if we announce having commenced one investigation or the other,» Gaiķis told the programme.
As previously reported, the previous construction cartel uncovered by Competition Council had a hand in at least 70 procurement projects worth a total of EUR 686 989 991.
Ten companies involved in the Competition Council were fined EUR 16 652 927. Among the ten companies were: SIA Skonto būve, SIA Latvijas energoceltnieks, SIA Velve, SIA Arčers, SIA Rere būve, SIA Re & Re, SIA RBSSKALS būvvadība, SIA Abora, LNK Industries and SIA Merks. SIA RBSSKALS būvvadība is already liquidated, so no fine was applied.