CADE imposes R $ 88 million fine in the automotive bearings market for cartel collusion

CADE imposes R $ 88 million fine in the automotive bearings market for cartel collusion
Source: 02.04.2021 228

The Administrative Council for Economic Defense condemned SKF Brasil, SNR Rolamentos Brasil, for cartel practice in the automotive bearings market at the session on 31st of March. Altogether, the fines determined by the Court reach R $ 88.2 million.

In his vote, adviser-rapporteur Mauricio Oscar Bandeira Maia pointed out that those involved in the collusion combined prices and adjustments, divided the market and shared commercially sensitive information. Anti-competitive conduct occurred between 2004 and 2011.

Regarding the automotive AMI segment, the cartel members discussed the transfer of values to independent distributors. The agreements were signed mainly during meetings of the so-called Aftermarket Bearing Group, held at the headquarters of the National Union of the Industry of Components for Motor Vehicles (Sindipeças). There are records that these meetings took place at least in the following years 2004, 2005 and 2009.

The automotive OEM, in turn, served Brazilian automakers. In this segment, customers requested quotes from suppliers and selected one or two companies to attend a given project based on the specified volume. After evaluating the proposals, the automakers could contact the suppliers to try to obtain discounts, a situation in which, often, the values presented by the competitors were informed. "There were two moments of sharing sensitive information. The first, even before the proposals were sent, so that a better understanding of the prices and strategies to be practised could be obtained. And the second, after the contact made by the customer, to check the prices mentioned by him with the other suppliers ", explained Bandeira Maia.
In this case, contacts between the collusion participants were made between 2007 and 2011 through meetings, e-mails and telephone calls.

SKF Brasil was fined R $ 78.7 million, and SNR Rolamentos Brasil was fined R $ 9.3 million for involvement in the illegal conduct. The SKF sales director at the time of the cartel is expected to pay a fine in the amount of R $ 106.4 thousand.

The administrative process started in 2012, following a leniency agreement signed with NSK group companies and related individuals. Given the fulfilment of the foreseen obligations, the Court declared the punitive action in relation to the signatories extinct.

The Board also declared the process suspended with respect to eight companies and 11 individuals who have signed the Termination Commitment Terms (TCCs) until the obligations assumed are fully recognized. The agreements resulted in the application of more than R $ 74 million in financial contributions.

Finally, due to the lack of sufficient evidence in the records, the directors voted to close the case with respect to two other companies and ten individuals investigated in the process.

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