On March 27, 2020, the FCO announced that already in December 2019 it had concluded its proceedings against 11 providers of technical building services.[1] The FCO imposed fines totaling approximately €110 million for collusion in tenders for large building projects.

The proceedings were initiated by a leniency application in November 2014, which was made in light of upcoming media reports on alleged collusion during the award of technical building services for two coal-fired power plants in Germany and in the Netherlands. Shortly after, additional providers demonstrated their willingness to cooperate with the FCO and the FCO initiated investigations in close cooperation with the Munich I Public Prosecution Office.

The investigations revealed that between 2005 and 2014, the technical building services providers had colluded during 37 different award procedures concerning the design and installation of technical equipment for large building complexes (in particular power plants, but also industrial installations, shopping malls, and office buildings etc.). Service providers mainly allocated projects and submitted “cover bids” in return for subcontracts, direct financial compensation, or the offer to place a cover bid in another tender.

Six companies cooperated and eight companies settled with the FCO. The fines imposed on these companies are final. The leniency applicant received full immunity and escaped a fine. Four cartelists appealed the FCO’s decision to the DCA. While on one appeal, the Düsseldorf Court of Appeal (“DCA”) discontinued the proceeding for lapse of time, the Düsseldorf Chief Public Prosecution Office appealed the DCA’s decision and the matter is currently pending before the FCJ.

[1]      Case B11-21/14. FCO Press Release, March 20, 2020, available in English here; FCO Case Summary, March 27, 2020, only available in German here.