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06 December, 2021
 
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Cyprus lacks 'snitches' to root out cartels

Competition office in Cyprus points to local culture to explain people not willing to talk

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The head of Cyprus’ competition protection office says its program designed to root out cartels on the island has failed because of the country’s closed society where snitching is not part of Cypriot culture.

Loukia Christodoulou, the chairperson of the Commission for the Protection of Competition, appeared before the House finance committee on Monday when she told members of parliament that years of running a program designed to help individuals report cartels has failed due to lack of evidence.

“Proving the existence of a cartel needs special documentation,” Christodoulou said.

The chairperson told the committee that her office often hears complaints about high prices or cartels. But she also went on to say that “when we ask for evidence, nobody is sending any documents.”

'The problem in uncovering cartels in Cyprus is that it is a small community where everybody knows everybody' she said

"Snitching is not part of our culture,” she said.

Christodoulou drew a comparison between Cyprus and Australia, saying the competition regulator of the country in Oceania had a record number of complaints against individuals running cartels “because it is a vast country and nobody knows each other.”

On the contrary, the chairperson added, Cyprus has a closed society where people do not go forward with their complaints.

“The problem in Cyprus in uncovering cartels is that it is a small community where everybody knows everybody,” she said.

Christodoulou also said nine administrative assistants were hired last week while a total of four mid-level or senior positions would open up based on the 2022 budget.

Last week an administrative court upheld several decisions by Christodoulou’s office resulting to a €750,000 fine against Hermes Airport for infringements of the Protection of Competition Law of 2008.

Similar decisions for infringement violations were also upheld last month including a €2.1 million fine imposed on the Pancyprian Organisation of Cattle Farmers in relation to the supply of raw cow milk and €1,016,425 against CYTA telecom for adversely affecting mobile telephony market activities of competitor Primetel to the detriment of consumers.

Christodoulou also said her office decided to launch a fully-fledged investigation into a merger regarding the acquisition of part of the share capital of VLPG PLANT by YUGEN as well as look into the merger of Hellenic Petroleum activities related to the storage and management of Liquefied Petroleum Gas with the respective business divisions of Petrolina, Synergas, and Intergaz, which have already been merged through VLPG PLANT.

TAGS
Cyprus  |  state budget  |  competition  |  cartel  |  Christodoulou  |  fines

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