© Stocksak. FILEPHOTO: Flags of the European Union fly in front of the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels (Belgium), September 28, 2022. REUTERS/Yves Herman
By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Stocksak). Companies that alerted European authorities in 16 years to cartels avoided 10 billion euros ($9.97 Billion) in possible fines, EU antitrust regulators announced Tuesday. They also announced new efforts to encourage whistleblowing.
The European Commission’s Lienibility Program was established in 1996 and has been updated several times. It provides total immunity from fines for the first company to report wrongdoing, while the discount can be up to 50% for those who come forward with additional evidence.
Companies that have cooperated in the European Economic Area since 2006 have seen their fines decrease by 16 billion euros. Immunity applicants have seen a 10 billion Euro decrease and reduced fines applications have seen a 6 billion Euro decrease, according to a statement from the Commission.
It stated that the total amount imposed during the same period was approximately 15 billion euros. The EEA encompasses the 27 EU countries, Iceland and Liechtenstein as well as Norway.
The leniency program allows whistleblowers to quickly test the waters before agreeing to the procedure. It allows companies to initiate informal talks with the EU competition enforcer, without disclosing their names or the sector they are located.
They can also submit a hypothetical request with details of wrongdoing in order to see if they are eligible to receive reduced fines.
Two officials have been appointed points of contact for whistleblowers.
($1 = 1.0029 euros)