Inquiry into CRH Polish activities

Inquiry into CRH Polish activities
Published: 02 June 2008

The Polish competition watchdog is believed to be close to completing an investigation into the activities of Irish group CRH and a number of big players in that country’s cement industry. Poland’s Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (OCCP) has been investigating CRH, Cemex and a number of local operators for price fixing and other anti-competitive practices since 2006. It is expected to complete its work shortly.

A year ago, the OCCP fined CRH’s Polish subsidiary, Cement Ozarow, €530,000 following a raid on its offices during which the office claimed someone attempted to interfere with evidence by deleting information from a PC. The fine was not related to anti-competitive behaviour.

CRH said at the time there were substantive grounds on which the fine could be overturned and lodged an appeal. This process is still under way and the company would not comment on the issue at the weekend.

Its executives have said the company is co-operating with the investigation. According to the OCCP, the industry-wide investigation covers price fixing, market sharing and exchanging confidential trading information.

EU and individual member states’ domestic laws ban anti-competitive practices in businesses. As a general rule, organisations convicted of this are fined large sums, normally related to their turnover. In some jurisdictions, directors could also face jail or some form of individual sanction. Industry sources said it was too early to say if the competition body was planning to charge any of the parties involved in its inquiry.