2019.06.27 15:30

Three Lithuanian firms fined €1m for rigging public procurement bids

BNS 2019.06.27 15:30

Several Lithuanian companies have been given fines totaling €978,000 for cartel agreements while bidding for municipal projects in three northern districts.

The Lithuanian Competition Council said on Thursday it imposed fines of €209,800 on Panevėžio Melioracija, €399,200 on Pasvalio Melioracija and Jadrana, which are a single economic entity, and €368,000 on Biržų Ranga.

“The companies agreed on prices they would ask for road and street repair and reclamation works in 25 public procurement procedures that were organized by the local governments of the districts of Pasvalys, Panevėžys and Biržai between 2012 and 2017,” the watchdog said in a press release.

The companies helped each other to win contracts in different municipalities. They also agreed not to bid for certain public procurement contracts, thus making way for one of them to win, the competition watchdog said.

The companies have admitted to having entered into anti-competitive agreements, the Competition Council added.

“This arrangement has existed for many years in all municipalities. CEOs of land reclamation companies know each other from old times and they never have difficulty finding a 'friendly' company to help them bid for contracts,” the CEO of one of these companies was quoted as saying in a press release. He was not named.

The illicit agreements were brought to light during the Special Investigation Service's probe into suspected non-transparent public procurement practices at Panevėžys District local government.

As part of the ongoing investigation, which was launched in January 2017, suspicions of abuse of office were brought against Panevėžys District Mayor Povilas Žagunis. The man remains in the job after being re-elected as mayor earlier this year.