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 NL 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

07.11.2019 NL law
Tackling Big Tech up-front? Time to stop thinking and start acting

Short Reads - Benelux competition authorities have published a joint memorandum on how best to keep up with challenges in fast-moving digital markets. As well as calling on the European Commission to issue an economic study on digital mergers, the memorandum calls for an ex ante intervention tool to fill the gap between interim measures and ex post enforcement. This tool would pre-emptively impose behavioural remedies on digital gatekeepers without first having to establish an actual competition law infringement.

Read more

08.11.2019 BE law
Interview with Wouter Ghijsels on Next Gen lawyers

Articles - Stibbe’s managing partner Wouter Ghijsels shares his insights on the next generation of lawyers and the future of the legal profession at the occasion of the Leaders Meeting Paris where Belgian business leaders, politicians and inspiring people from the cultural and academic world will discuss this year's central theme "The Next Gen".

Read more

07.11.2019 NL law
Rotterdam District Court rules that claims in elevator cartel damages proceedings need further substantiation

Short Reads - The Rotterdam District Court has ordered claimant SECC (a litigation vehicle) to substantiate its claims in proceedings against Kone and ThyssenKrupp regarding the elevator cartel. The Court also ruled that some claims have become time-barred, unless SECC can show that these were timely assigned to SECC and notified to Kone and ThyssenKrupp. The Court rejected several defences of Kone and Thyssenkrupp, including a jurisdictional challenge based on arbitration clauses between the defendants and assignors of claims to SECC.

Read more

07.11.2019 NL law
Safeguarding legal privilege: better safe than sorry?

Short Reads - The European Court of Justice recently ruled that the European Commission does not have to take additional precautionary measures to respect the right of legal professional privilege when conducting a new dawn raid at the same company. Companies are well-advised to mark clearly all communications covered by legal privilege as 'privileged and confidential' and to keep all privileged communication separate from other communication.

Read more

Our website uses functional cookies for the functioning of the website and analytic cookies that enable us to generate aggregated visitor data. We also use other cookies, such as third party tracking cookies - please indicate whether you agree to the use of these other cookies:

Privacy – en cookieverklaring