Spain's competition authority initiates formal disciplinary proceedings against 12 corrugated packaging entities, including Smurfit Kappa, Saica and Europac, over possible anticompetitive practices, says investigation could last up to 18 months

LOS ANGELES , May 13, 2013 () – Spain’s competition authority Comisión Nacional de La Competencia (CNC) has initiated formal disciplinary proceedings against 12 corrugated companies or groups, including Smurfit Kappa Spain SA and S.A. Cellulose Industries Aragonese (SAICA), over possible anticompetitive practices, according to a CNC press release on May 13.

CNC inspections took place on April 10-11 across six of the 12 entities for the purpose of uncovering any anticompetitive practices. According to the release, evidence of conduct prohibited by the Competition Act was found. On May 10, formal proceedings were opened to address the issue, and the investigation would take up to 18 months for CNC to resolve.

The companies or groups being investigated include Smurfit Kappa, SAICA, Paper and Cardboard Europe SA (Europac), Petit SA Packaging, Packaging Hispano SA, Cartonajes Santorromán SA, Rafael Hinojosa SA, Cartonajes International SL (Cartisa), Lantero Cardboard SL, Cartonajes Bernabeu SA, Cartonajes Vegabaja SA, and the Spanish Association of Manufacturers of Containers and Packaging Corrugated Cardboard (AFCO).

Conduct that is in violation of Spain’s Defense of Competition includes collective recommendations, exchanges of information and price agreements allocating customers and markets for corrugated products or packaging, according to the release.

CNC said that it considers investigations of cartels to be a priority, citing their significant impact on consumers.

Spain’s antitrust law also features a leniency program in which any entity that participates in the cartel can come forward with information about the cartel’s existence. Those that cooperate could be exempted from fines or have the fines greatly reduced, according to the regulatory body.

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