Athens – The Hellenic Competition Commission has imposed fines totaling $4.4 million on six tugboat companies in connection with a probe into alleged market collusion. According to the commission, the towing companies Vernikos, Spanopoulos, Megatugs, Zouros, Pro-Tugs and Med Tugs have agreed to a settlement to resolve the case, including a plea deal admitting inolvement.
The firms admitted to conducting an "objectively illegal partnership, in violation of Article 1 of Law 3959/2011." The statute broadly forbids companies from engaginge in price-fixing, limiting market supply, dividing up markets, or refusing to trade for the purpose of limiting competition. The firms in question alo admitted said that there may also have been a possible violation of EU Article 101(1) TFEU, which prohibits "concerted practices affecting trade between EU countries which could prevent, restrict or distort competition."
The commission said that the partnership's goal was "the limitation of competition and specifically the allocation of the market and the determination of prices (discounts)" for the provision of towing services. The scope included dry cargo and oil tanker traffic at Thessaloniki and Kavala, as well as oil tanker traffic at Attica.
After the administrative dispute settlement, the total fine came to about $4.4 million, including a percentage reduction for the settlement. Med Tugs paid the largest single component for its role in the scheme at the port of Attica, with a total fine of about $1.2 million. The settlement process is reserved for companies that "admit, voluntarily and unconditionally" their participation in a market-fixing scheme, according to the commission.