Earlier the FAS started anti-cartel inspections of the largest sugar producers - Rusagro Group LLC, Rusagro-Center LLC, Prodimex LLC, GC Dominant LLC, Trade House Dominant LLC and ChekhovSugar LLC, as well as the Union of Sugar Producers of Russia non-profit organization.
The FAS also audited market participants, including producers, retailers and intermediaries, to prevent delays in shipments of sugar to retail facilities.
Based on the results of inspections, FAS initiated antimonopoly proceedings against wholesale sugar suppliers in Kemerovo Region and two sugar factories of Agrocomplex named after Tkachev in Krasnodar Territory due to higher prices. In addition, the agency initiated a case against Magnit and Pyaterochka (X5 Retail Group) due to under-supply of sugar, established by the Voronezh Department of the FAS. During the inspection, significant stocks of granulated sugar were found in the warehouses of the companies, but the retailers did not deliver the goods to the stores, supporting the rush demand, the FAS claimed.
It has now become known that the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) of Russia has opened a case against Prodimex, the largest sugar producer in the Russian Federation.
The Service suspects Prodimex LLC of illegally coordinating the economic activities of retail chains, which led to an increase in retail prices of sugar, the FAS said in a statement.
Signs of violation of the antimonopoly legislation (part 5, Article 11 of the Law on Competition Protection) were found in the course of unscheduled anti-cartel inspections in relation to the largest sugar producers.
If found guilty, the company faces a fine under the RF CAO, the service reminded.
ELENA GLADYSHEVA, ADVOCATE, MANAGING PARTNER OF RI-CONSULTING, explains how the collusion is usually proven. What can a company face for such actions? Can we say at this moment that Prodimex was found guilty?
"The practice of FAS in proving collusion is extensive and multifaceted: the evidence traditionally includes IP addresses and electronic correspondence of the parties, which employees of legal entities use to exchange information and discuss any issues. Often, few people anticipate the risks and consequences that may arise from fairly trivial, at first glance, things. For example, employees of different companies discussed deliveries and their delays via e-mail (a common practice in the coordination of economic activities of trade networks), or participated in bidding from the same IP address - all this is indirect evidence of collusion between business entities, but few people pay attention to such little things in the work process.
Of course, in addition to the above evidence, collusion can be supported by a huge number of other factors: agreements between business entities, including cooperation agreements; transactions on non-market terms, including "intra-group" loans, common infrastructure in carrying out financial and business activities, common economic policy of companies, overlaps between employees, being in the same building (or in a nearby building).
In practice, for the FAS to confirm the collusion, 1-2 direct evidences or several indirect evidences are enough. However, it is worth noting that electronic correspondence, even though it is classified as indirect evidence, may contain enough information to conclude that there was collusion and lead to administrative liability.
For collusion established by the FAS, a company faces a fine established by article 14.32 of the RF CAO. There are also fixed fines, but often a business entity is imposed a turnover fine - a percentage of the aggregate amount of revenue.
Currently, based on the information published in the FAS decisions database, we can draw an obvious conclusion that the actions of Prodimex LLC violated Part 5, Article 11 of the Federal Law "On Competition Protection" (ban on the coordination of economic activities of business entities, if such coordination is contrary to applicable law). In this regard, the FAS Commission issued a corresponding opinion on the circumstances of the case, confirmed by the FAS decision, which is currently appealed in arbitration court on the claim of Prodimex LLC," the Advocate commented for Vedomosti.
Fedresurs media has prepared statistics on bankruptcies in 2022. Specifically, it points to a 12.2% decrease in corporate bankruptcies and a 39% decrease in observational bankruptcies, with no surge after the moratorium on bankruptcies was lifted in the fall.
The rise in consumer bankruptcies also slowed, from 62% to 44.2%. Out-of-court bankruptcies are on the rise (52,6%).
Elena Gladysheva, Managing Partner of RI-Consulting, describes the bankruptcy results in 2022, according to the data provided by Fedresurs. The expert gives her evaluation of the effect of the bankruptcy moratorium, the consequences of sanctions and other negative factors of the last year.
"This statistics, in my opinion, should be viewed a little more retrospectively, rather than affecting only the period of 2022.
Taking into account the recent years, the 'point of no return', which entailed an increase in the number of bankruptcy procedures, was still 2020 - COVID-2019 and the period of self-isolation, as well as the inability to fulfill a significant amount of obligations caused by downtime and lack of funds led to bankruptcy of a significant number of companies which have not prepared sufficient reserves.
The expected outcome of the bankruptcy moratorium in 2020 was an increase in the number of procedures in 2021.
In 2021, during the period of restoration of stability, there was no significant increase of new companies replacing the bankrupt companies, i.e., "the strongest survived".
In 2022, taking into account the current realities, the bulk of those who have already passed the period of 2020 continue to work, the economy and financial plans of companies have relatively adapted to the changes taking place, and have become much more liable, taking into account the experience gained.
For the most part, bankruptcy now will be taken over by those companies whose activities are directly or indirectly related to the foreign sector - obviously, the reason for this is the sanctions imposed.
In addition, no sharp upsurge of bankruptcies of individuals is also due to the procedure of out-of-court bankruptcy of citizens, introduced by the legislator earlier, the popularity of which, on the contrary, is growing every month, which is also confirmed by the above statistics," - notes the advocate.
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