Short Reads

Commission reduced EURIBOR cartel fine imposed on Société Générale by EUR 218 million

Commission reduced EURIBOR cartel fine imposed on Société Générale by EUR 218 million

Commission reduced EURIBOR cartel fine imposed on Société Générale by EUR 218 million

02.05.2016 EU law

On 6 April 2016, the European Commission announced that it had reduced the fine imposed on Société Générale for its participation in the Euro interest rate derivatives cartel from EUR 445.9 million to EUR 227.7 million. The fine, which was imposed by the Commission in 2013 using the cartel settlement procedure, was modified to reflect the corrected value of sales provided by Société Générale in February 2016.

In December 2013, the Commission imposed fines of EUR 1.71 billion on eight international banks for manipulation of interest rate derivatives denominated in Euros (EURIBOR) and Japanese Yen (JPY LIBOR). Société Générale received a fine of EUR 445.9 million for its involvement in the cartel related to EURIBOR. The Commission concluded the case under the EU settlement procedure.   

Undertakings can benefit from a 10% fine reduction and a less time-consuming procedure if they agree to settle with the Commission. Although settlement decisions can be appealed to the EU courts, the Commission expected this to be unlikely when introducing the settlement procedure. This is mainly because, after settlement discussions, parties must acknowledge their liability for the infringement as well as its main facts and legal assessment. Furthermore, a settlement submission must, among other things, contain an indication of the maximum amount of the fine the undertaking would accept and the party's confirmation that it has had sufficient opportunity to make its views known and it does not envisage requesting further access to the Commission's file.

When Société Générale appealed the EURIBOR settlement decision in 2014, it was the first settling party to appeal a decision to the General Court. Société Générale based its appeal on the grounds that the Commission had miscalculated the value of sales, which is the basis for the calculation of the fine. According to Société Générale, the sales values adopted by the Commission in the contested decision did not accurately reflect the position of the banks on the market during the infringement period. In February 2016, Société Générale provided the Commission with revised data to be used for a re-calculation of the fine.

When the Commission announced that it would reduce the fine on the basis of the corrected figures, Société Générale withdrew its appeal against the settlement decision. By using the same methodology used in its 2013 decision, the Commission reduced the fine on Société Générale by almost half of the original amount to EUR 227.7 million.

The case shows that providing accurate turnover data during an investigation is essential to ensure a correct level of the fine. In settlement procedures in particular, where parties are guided through the evidence and do not have access to all the documents supporting the case, there is a lack of insight into the methodology used for calculating the fines imposed on all of the parties concerned. This makes it even more important to ensure the turnover figures submitted are accurate and errors do not need to be corrected during lengthy appeal proceedings.

This article was published in the Competition Law Newsletter of May 2016. Other articles in this newsletter:

1. Commission publishes commitments offered by Paramount Pictures in pay-TV investigation
2. ACM clarifies that a party cannot object to the fine imposed on another addressee of the decision

Team

Related news

04.04.2022 EU law
ACM jumps on gun-jumping bandwagon

Short Reads - Companies involved in multi-step acquisitions should beware of potential gun-jumping risks. The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has fined a trade association for failing to notify the acquisition of four pharmacies involving a consecutive partial resale. Unlike the European Commission’s gun-jumping fine for partial implementation of a concentration through a ‘warehousing’ two-step acquisition (see our July 2019 newsletter; appeal pending), the ACM’s fine relates to faulty turnover calculations due to an unmaterialized two-step transaction.

Read more

05.04.2022 NL law
Game on for gatekeepers: Digital Markets Act finalised

Short Reads - Now that political agreement has been reached on the final text, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) will enter into force soon. The DMA’s ex ante rules and obligations will apply next to the ad hoc EU and national competition rules. Time for big digital companies to take stock of the potential implications of these additional rules on their day-to-day business operations. See our infographic for a concise overview of the DMA.

Read more

04.04.2022 EU law
The ECN+ Directive implemented in Belgium and introduction of merger filing fees

Short Reads - On 7 March 2022, the Act implementing the ECN+ Directive into Belgian law was published in the Belgian Official Gazette. The Act entered into force on 17 March 2022. Some of the key amendments include (i) the introduction of filing fees for the notification of a concentration, (ii) new fines and penalty payments (including clarifications on the leniency programme), (iii) new dawn raid powers and (iv) the introduction of a regulatory framework for mutual assistance and cooperation within the European Competition Network.

Read more

10.03.2022 EU law
De Dataverordening (“Data Act”)

Short Reads - De Europese Commissie heeft op 23 februari 2022 de Europese dataverordening (“Data Act”) voorgesteld, die het delen van data beoogt te bevorderen. Steeds meer gegevens worden door mensen en machines gegenereerd, bewaard en hergebruikt. Data en data-analyse kan een bijdrage leveren aan de efficiëntie van maatschappelijke processen, onderzoek en innovatie stimuleren en het concurrentievermogen van industrieën versterken. Veel data is echter niet vrij toegankelijk.  

Read more