Heading to the end of the year, we attended an annual symposium which took place at the Law School of Ankara University last Friday. One of the most intriguing speech was given by our colleague Mr. Gökşin Kekevi, Senior Competition Specialist, on fines imposed by the TCA both previous to and following to the adoption of the Fining Regulation. One of the important points in Kekevi’s presentation was the rate of cartel fines in the total amount of fines in the calendar year 2011, in which the TCA imposed highest fines ever. Actually, it gave me the topic of this post. Furthermore, having seen the largest cartel fine imposed by the EU Commission, we thought that it would be helpful to give some insights into the figures related to fines in Turkish competition law.
Before delving into the amount of cartel fines, let’s get started with the amount of fines throughout the previous years.
USD/TL exchange rates here.
The obvious figure is the amount of fines imposed in 2011, the calendar years 2009 and 2012 takes the second and the third places respectively. However, the most surprising part of the story emerges when we look at the cartel fines in the last four years (note that the Fining and Leniency Regulations adopted in 2009) :
Although the TCA imposed the highest amount of fines in 2011, the cartel fines constitute less than 1 million TLs out of 460 million TLs of the total amount of fines. In order to see whether this reduction was the result of another fact, we should look at the number of investigations and the number of decisions in which a fine was imposed to a substantive infringement:
As clearly seen from the figure above, the number of decisions in which a substantive fine was imposed are the same in years 2010, 2011, and 2012. Thereby these figures do not suggest any reasonable explanation for the sharp falling of cartel fines in 2011. Hence we should look at something else that may explain this trend: the number of undertakings.
In 2011, the TCA imposed fines on 37 undertakings out of 66, In 2012, the number of undertakings on which a substantive fine was imposed is 50 out of 76.
All in all, I think that these numbers do not explain the rapid decrease of cartel fines in 2011. Considering that the Fining and Leniency Regulations came into force in 2009, which are designed to unearth and deter cartels, it is highly questionable why the Authority imposed too low fines on cartels in 2011. Our estimation on this trend may be the topic of a forthcoming post.