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October 23, 2021

10 companies under investigation for agreed fixed prices for grains

The Competition Council has audited various headquarters of the major grain marketing companies based on the suspicion of an anti-competition agreement to set the purchase price for grains. The audits were conducted at 12 national headquarters and work points of the following companies: Agricover, Alfred C. Toepfer, Ameropa, Brise Agricultura, Brise Group, Bunge, Cargill, Glencore, Nidera and United Grain.
Competition Council chairman Bogdan Chiritoiu stated in a press release: “Upon conducting these audits, we took into account the nature and seasonality of this sector: judging by product perishability and the lack of stocking options of the small and medium producers, it was more likely that an anti-competition agreement would be concluded between traders now, when the grain offer is wide. In preparing the investigation, we’ve collaborated with multiple state institutions and organised the national audits in great detail”. The documents found on the premises of the companies and statements given to auditors are being analysed by the regulating authority. If it is concluded that competition rules were breeched, companies are liable to fines amounting to no more than 10% of the turnover. “However, the companies that cooperate with the competition authority as part of the clemency programme could become immune to the fines or benefit from significant deductions”, the press release also notes.
This initiative comes in response to President Traian Basescu’s statement on Wednesday, saying there are only 4 or 5 major companies that currently dominate the grain purchase market and urging the Competition Council to investigate the matter because purchase price differences are very small – of 1 euro per ton of wheat. Basescu also pointed out that the government should have foreseen granting deposit certificates this summer, since it was obvious, as early on as the first half of the year, that Romania’s harvest – as well as the Ukraine’s, Russia’s, Bulgaria’s and Hungary’s harvest, all grain exporting countries – would be substantial.

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