Consip call for tender: sanctions totalling over 23 million euro imposed on auditing and consulting firms for colluding to restrict competition
The Italian Competition Authority (“ICA”) imposed sanctions totalling over 23 million euros on the main auditing and consulting firms belonging to the international networks Deloitte, KPMG, Ernst&Young and PWC (also known as the “big four”).
The ICA, chaired by Giovanni Pitruzzella, verified the existence of an agreement to restrict competition, in violation of Article 101 of the TFEU, whereby the “big four” influenced the outcome of the tender called by CONSIP to award the contracts for support and technical assistance services to the Public Administrations for the performance and development of monitoring and auditing on the programmes co-financed by the European Union (“CONSIP AdA” call for tender), whose value amounts to approximately 66 million.
The ICA ascertained that the collusion took place through a "checkerboard" participation in the tender lots; indeed, each network presented higher discounts in the lots "assigned" to it on the basis of the sharing layout, without overlapping with lots of interest to the other networks or presenting offers of support completely unsuitable to win the lot. This way the companies effectively cancelled each other’s competition out in the tender process to divide up the lots and neutralise competition outside the cartel.
The agreement under investigation, which is one of the most serious violations of competition law, was fully implemented and inevitably influenced the outcome of the procedure with regard to all tender lots. Indeed, if the participatory strategies of all the parties involved in the collusion had been implemented independently and, therefore, guided by the logic of competition, more favourable results for the contracting authority would have been seen both from a financial point of view and in reference to the technical service put out to tender.
Rome, 7 November 2017