The Romanian Competition Council announced today, 16 January 2014, that the competition authority imposed fines 14 of producers or importers of electronics and home appliances, members of board of the business associations ECOTIC and ROREC – Philips Romania, Panasonic, Electrolux, Arctic, Whirlpool, Indesit, BSH (Bosch und Siemens) among them – with fines ranging from 3% to 4% of their turnover for the participation in the period 2008-2009 at a cartel which aim was to control the trade of their products and to set the level of the discounts in certain buy-back campaigns.

According to the decision, the sanctioned cartels took place in the framework of the associations ECOTIC and ROREC, which have been created in order to facilitate the obligations of the producers and the importers of home appliances to recover certain quantities from the waste resulting from such products. The Romanian competition authority considers that under the pretext of realizing legitimate purposes, in connection to the protection of the environment, the sanctioned companies created a mchanism which allowed them to anticipate the volumes of sales of the competitors (a sort of indirect exchange of confidential information) and agreed to limit the level of the discount granted to customers with acquired new products whilst returning an old similar item during the buy-back campaigns.

The above mentioned behaviors, sanctioned by the Romanian Competition Council, demonstrates once more that the border between what is permitted and what is prohibited by the competition rules is often blurred, especially when it is about interactions which take place in the framework of a business association.