The anti-monopoly watchdog Competition Commission of India (CCI) on Friday imposed a penalty against seven entities for indulging in an anti-competitive agreement to supply signages for branches, offices and ATMs of the State Bank of India (SBI).
The fairtrade regulator initiated suo motu in the matter based on a 2018 complaint alleging bid-rigging and cartelisation in the tender floated by SBI Infra Management Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
The investigation discovered e-mails exchanged between the seven parties manipulating the bidding process. CCI found an agreement amongst them which resulted in geographical market allocation and bid-rigging in the tender of SBI.
CCI noted that all the parties were guilty of contravention of the provisions of Section 3 of the Competition Act, 2002 (the Act), which prohibits anti-competitive agreements, including cartels.
Nine people were also held liable for the anti-competitive conduct of their respective entities.
CCI observed that most of the parties were MSMEs and have cooperated during the investigation. Considering this, CCI took a lenient view and imposed the penalty at one per cent of their respective average turnover. In addition, the individuals found guilty have to pay a fine of one per cent of their average incomes.
Besides, one party was a lesser penalty applicant among the seven entities before CCI. Considering the stage at which the lesser penalty applicant approached the CCI and in light of the co-operation extended, CCI granted a reduction in penalty by 90 per cent to it and its individuals.
The watchdog has further directed the parties and their respective officials to cease and desist from indulging in anti-competitive conduct.
Copyright©2023 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today