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The First Example: Settlement and Leniency Mechanisms, Unite!

May 2022 – On 25 May 2022, the Turkish Competition Authority announced the first example of the joint application of the settlement and active cooperation (a.k.a. leniency) instruments in Turkish competition law. The Competition Board’s short decision reveals that the investigation examined whether two natural mineral water suppliers—Beypazarı İçecek [1] and Kınık Maden Suları [2]—violated Article 4 of Law No. 4054 on the Protection of Competition through the creation of a cartel via the exchange with each other of information on current and future prices, price change dates, and increased prices on the natural mineral water market. 

Article 7 of the Settlement Regulation sets forth that the settlement mechanism and active cooperation/leniency instrument may be applied together. In such a case, the fine reduction resulting from the leniency application and settlement process are added and applied together. This decision serves as an important example demonstrating that parties under a competition investigation may apply for leniency while at the same time benefitting from the settlement procedure.

Under the settlement procedure, the investigated parties accept the violation and administrative monetary fine to be imposed by the Board, and the Board ends its investigation at an early stage and reduces the penalties by 10%–25%. As for the leniency mechanism, a cartel member may apply for leniency until the official receipt of the investigation report. Depending on the timing of the application, the applicant may benefit from full immunity or a fine reduction.

In this first example of the joint application of the settlement and leniency mechanisms, the Competition Board decreased the administrative monetary fines imposed on Kınık and Beypazarı by 35% and 30% respectively, on the grounds that they admitted to the cartel and actively cooperated with the Competition Authority. The Board decided to end its investigation as the parties settled with the Authority, thereby accepting the nature and scope of the infringement as well as the fines to be imposed by the Board. In return, the Board decreased the penalty imposed on both parties by 25% (in addition to the fine reduction for the parties’ active cooperation with the Competition Authority).

As a result, the Board imposed a total administrative monetary fine of approx. TL 928,000 (for 2022, approx. EUR 55,000 or USD 57,000) [3] on Kınık and approx. TL 9.8 million (for 2022, approx. EUR 560,000 or USD 600,000) [4] on Beypazarı, based on their 2020 and 2021 turnover figures, respectively.

 A detailed assessment of the Board’s ruling will be available once the Board’s reasoned decision is published. Keep following us for developments.

For more information please contact Bulut Girgin, Counsel, at bgirgin@gentemizerozer.com, Simru Tayfun, Associate, at stayfun@gentemizerozer.com, and Efe Utku Çal, Student Intern, at ecal@gentemizerozer.com.

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[1] Beypazarı İçecek Pazarlama Dağıtım Ambalaj Turizm Petrol İnşaat Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş.
[2] Kınık Maden Suları A.Ş.
[3] Exchange Rate: EUR 1 = TL 17,42; USD 1 = TL 16,35.
[4] Exchange Rate: EUR 1 = TL 17,42; USD 1 = TL 16,35.