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Another Purchasing Cartel on the European Commission’s Radar – Lessons for Compliance

For a long time purchasing cartels have been a relatively rare phenomenon in competition law enforcement. As a result, they may have received little attention from companies implementing compliance training programs. In the past couple of years, however, the Commission has become increasingly active in investigating and fining such cartels, notably in the battery recycling and ethylene purchasing sectors.

This month the European Commission announced another investigation into a suspected purchasing cartel.   The authority confirmed that it has carried out a series of dawn raids at the premises of companies that purchase styrene monomer – a chemical used as a base material for a number of chemical products.

The Commission’s latest investigation is a reminder that colluding to fix purchasing prices is just as unlawful as conspiring to fix sales prices. It also highlights that purchasing and procurement teams – often overlooked when it comes to compliance training – are equally exposed to antitrust risk as sales teams.

It is therefore of paramount importance for companies to ensure that their purchasing employees receive adequate competition law training in order to be able to identify the relevant antitrust risks and act in compliance with EU rules on restrictive business practices. The three companies involved in the battery recycling purchasing cartel were fined a total of €68 million (currently under appeal), highlighting what is potentially at stake for failing to do so.

© Copyright 2020 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLPNational Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 183



About this Author

Oliver Geiss Competition Attorney Squire Patton Boggs Brussels, Belgium & Frankfurt, Germany

Oliver Geiss focuses his practice on competition law in the European Union and Germany.

He has represented companies in some of the largest cartel investigations before the European Commission and the German Federal Cartel Office, including Air Freight, LCD Screen, Optical Disk Drives, Refrigeration Compressors and Industrial Batteries, as well as in civil damage actions before national courts. Oliver is at the forefront of developments and regularly publishes in this area.

Oliver also regularly advises clients on merger notifications of cross-border transactions with the...

+32 2-627-1112

Tatiana Siakka is a competition law specialist with wide-ranging experience in both contentious and non-contentious matters. She advises clients on all aspects of EU and UK competition law, including cartel defence and antitrust investigations, merger control, market dominance and state aid, and has successfully represented clients before the European Commission and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

In addition, Tatiana has extensive experience in competition litigation in the EU and UK courts, including the High Court, Competition Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, having acted in proceedings for both claimants and defendants. She is currently representing a major Polish motorway company in state aid proceedings before the General Court of the EU.

Tatiana has experience in complex vertical distribution matters, having advised numerous manufacturers of branded goods in a variety of sectors, including leading consumer electronics and fashion brands, on designing and implementing effective distribution policies across Europe with a particular focus on e-commerce, including advice on parallel trade and grey market imports. She regularly develops tailored compliance programmes, carries out internal audits and delivers training to clients on their competition law obligations.

Prior to joining us, Tatiana worked at leading international law firms in London, advising clients across the spectrum of EU and UK competition law and representing clients in high-value competition litigation proceedings in the UK courts, including having acted in two of the largest damages claims in the UK – the interchange fees and air cargo litigation.

Tatiana has spent time in-house as legal counsel of a leading home automation company, where she focused primarily on establishing and expanding the company’s multichannel distribution network in Europe, in addition to advising on all day-to-day competition issues.

Tatiana publishes frequently on competition law developments and is a contributor to Squire Patton Boggs' Triage Health Law blog. She has a particular interest in the intersection between competition and intellectual property.


BPP Law School, Qualified Lawyer Transfer Scheme, 2014

Universiteit Leiden, LL.M., EU and Competition Law, 2012

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, LL.B., 2009

Free University of Brussels, Erasmus Scholar, 2007