In its first-instance decision, the Office imposed a fine of CZK 22.5 million on the undertaking Beryko for the obstruction of dawn raid

2022-11-09
In its first-instance decision, the Office for the Protection of Competition (hereinafter referred to as “the Office”) imposed a fine of CZK 22,500,000 on Beryko s.r.o. for infringement of the obligation to provide the Office with necessary assistance during the on-site inspection. An appeal may be filed against the decision within the statutory time limit.

At the beginning of this year, the Office carried out an unannounced on-site inspection at Beryko's business premises for suspected anticompetitive behaviour in the distribution and sale of Xiaomi products in the Czech Republic. In course of the inspection, one of the company's executives refused to hand over and make available his mobile phone to the Office's inspectors, while the other executive handed over a mobile phone and a notebook for examination, but the content of these devices had been deleted or altered. In addition, a large part of the content of the work email account of one of Beryko's employees was covertly deleted and, even after the request, backups of the work email accounts of Beryko's employees were not made available to the Office's inspectors.

Dawn raids at the business premises of undertakings are a key tool of the Office in detecting prohibited agreements, in particular cartel agreements. Throughout the course of the inspection, Beryko deliberately and purposefully took a number of steps to frustrate or significantly impede the Office's investigation, despite the repeated warnings of the consequences of such conduct.

When imposing the fine, the Office took into account the fact that this was deliberately obstructive behaviour with the intention of not allowing a proper examination of business records. Moreover, its gravity was significantly increased by the fact that it emanated from the executives and shareholders of the undertaking under investigation. The maximum amount of fine imposed for this type of offence can be up to 1% of the undertaking's turnover, and in the present case it is close to this level.

Recently, the Office imposed the maximum fines on four undertakings for hindering a dawn raid, while clearly stating that it would not tolerate such behaviour.

Press Unit of the Office for the Protection of Competition
22/0158 – V0031/2022

 

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