Central High Court stays a millionaire sanction against 12 construction companies

๐—ฆ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ถ๐˜€๐—ต ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐˜๐—ถ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—น๐—ถ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป – Central High Court (“Audiencia Nacional”) stays a millionaire sanction of the Spanish competition watchdog (“CNMC”) against 12 construction companies for forming an alleged cartel consisting of the alteration of tenders for road maintenance and operation services called by the Ministry of Development from 2014 to 2018.

In its October 25 order (“Auto”), the Contentious Chamber of the Audiencia Nacional suspended the enforcement of penalty to Sacyr Conservaciรณn, a subsidiary of the construction company, which amounted to 5.17 million euros. Moreover, the court also suspends the prohibition to contract with the Public Administration. However, it is conditioned to the company providing a bank guarantee.

The tense relationship between the CNMC and the Spanish courts remains unresolved.

Interestingly, the courts also recently suspended a 182 million euros sanction imposed by the CNMC against OHLA, among other relevant engineering companies fined on another supposed construction cartel that was alleged to alter thousands of public tenders for building and civil works infrastructure. It is expected that the rest of the appeals by the affected construction companies (Acciona, ACS, FCC, Ferrovial and Sacyr) will take little time to arrive.

Both OHLA then and Sacyr now argued in their respective appeals to the courts against the sanctions that the payment would cause significant damages to their accounts:

“The amount of the fine exceeds the amount of Sacyr Construcciรณn’s current cash flow, so its immediate payment would leave the company without liquidity and with difficulty to resort to other sources of financing to face it”. Therefore, paying the fine would put the companies at risk “with serious consequences in the contractual and reputational areas”.

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