The new case began on Monday at Helsinki District Court. It rests on the Supreme Court’s 2009 ruling, in which eight companies were convicted of running a nationwide cartel between 1994 and 2002.
The court imposed more than 80 million euros in fines, the largest on Lemminkäinen.
In the new case, the customers who were overcharged—the municipalities and government responsible for maintaining Finland’s roads—are demanding compensation totalling 120 million euros.
’This cartel was a masterpiece and a success story, right up until it fell apart,’ said the municipalities’ lawyer Petteri Uoti. ’The cartel operated successfully across Finland for eight years. Now the district court is to take a view on how profitable cartel operations are in Finland. Now we’ll see if taxpayers’ money will be returned by the asphalt companies.’
The lawyer went on to explain that he believed the cartel’s operations were both planned and regimented.
’Lemminkäinen led the cartel,’ continued Uoti. ’The asphalt firms had agreed the prices for bids together, and shared out the jobs. It was the task of other firms to offer so called protective bids, to fool municipalities. At the same time small companies’ operations were controlled and limited. There was also a joint monitoring and penalty system among the cartel companies.’
Lemminkäinen: No losses to municipalities
Lemminkäinen’s lawyer Mika Savola refused to comment to the media outside the court. During proceedings he had claimed that the cartel operation had not caused losses to municipalities.
’The cartel operated for eight years, pointed out Uoti. ’It’s a daft idea that the firms would not have received any benefit from it. We calculate that municipalities have overpaid on asphalt tendering by around 30 percent because of the illegal cartel.’
The case is expected to last for several month, with final statements scheduled for next April. The court is expected to rule on the compensation claims next Autumn.
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