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October 4, 2021

Spain’s competition watchdog imposes €127.3m fine on rail cartel

Eight firms, including Siemens and Nokia, had allegedly acted as a cartel and shared rail signalling contracts worth €4.1bn.

CNMC (Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia), the competition authority of Spain, has imposed a combined fine of €127.3m on eight companies, including Siemens, Nokia and ACS, for their alleged involvement in rigging contracts associated with rail-signalling systems.

These firms had acted as a cartel and unlawfully shared contracts worth €4.1bn, reported Reuters.

The contracts were awarded by Spain’s national rail-infrastructure operator Adif.

Siemens had claimed that it supported the probe and took requisite measures at the organisational and personnel level even before the fines were imposed.

The company also stated that it has no tolerance for corruption.

A spokesperson from Nokia told Reuters that the firm had cooperated with the probe and believes it did not act unlawfully.

The spokesperson added: “We are going to appeal the decision and request suspension of all sanctions pending the appeal.”

ACS, however, did not respond to requests for comment, reported the news agency.

The ruling followed a probe that began in 2019 denting a similar cartel of many of the same firms. The 2019 probe focused on contracts with regard to the electrification of the rail lines.

The watchdog said in a statement: “This (more recent) cartel’s practices have been particularly damaging since, in some cases, the effects of the fraud have lasted until 2040 due to the duration of some of the contracts.”

The largest fine of €30m was slapped on ACS subsidiary Cobra, followed by Siemens and its rail subsidiary with a total fine of €28.9m, and Nokia with €24m.

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