The Portuguese Competition Authority confirms unannounced inspections in the specialised credit sector

Press Release 3/2016
 
The Portuguese Competition Authority confirms unannounced inspections in the specialised credit sector
 
 
 
The Portuguese Competition Authority (the PCA) confirms that it carried out unannounced inspections on 28 and 29 January 2016, at 13 premises of various specialised credit institutions located in Lisbon, in the context of two new antitrust proceedings, under the powers provided by the Competition Act.
 
The inspections were motivated by the existence of evidence of anticompetitive practices relating to the exchange of sensitive commercial information in the financial sector which substantiate the suspicions of infringement to the Competition Act and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
 
Unannounced inspections are a mean to obtain evidence of anticompetitive practices. However, the fact that they are carried out does not entail that the involved undertakings will be sanctioned, nor does it imply a judgment on whether the undertakings are guilty of an unlawful conduct in the market.
 
The unannounced inspections carried out by the PCA did not affect the due course of activity of the involved undertakings.
 
The inspections were requested by the PCA to the Public Prosecutor’s Office which in turn promoted the inspections before the Court for Criminal Investigation.
 
The PCA ordered the infringement proceedings to be subject to secrecy taking into account that the interest behind the investigation would not be duly safeguarded should the proceedings be made public.
 
The Portuguese Competition Law establishes a leniency regime for companies wishing to disclose their participation in an alleged agreement or concerted practice and which provide the PCA with information and evidence of the alleged infringement.