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Alternatives to Leniency Programmes – ITALY – December 2023 OECD discussion

This presentation by Italy was made during the discussion “Alternatives to Leniency Programmes” held at the 22nd meeting of the OECD Global Forum on Competition on 7 December 2023. More papers and presentations on the topic can be found out at oe.cd/atlp. This presentation was uploaded with the author’s consent.

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Alternatives to Leniency Programs
The recent implementation of the
whistleblowing platform in Italy
OCDE
Paris, December 7, 2023
Saverio Valentino
1
Italy
Decreasing role of leniency in cartel
detection
• Since 2016, almost 90% of the cartel decisions adopted by the
Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) were based on ex-officio
investigations
• Anonymous complaints have always played a significant role in
ensuring the effectiveness of the ex-officio investigations initiated
by the AGCM
• between 2013 and 2022, the AGCM closed 12 formal
proceedings, initiated thanks to anonymous reports (either
as the only source of the AGCM’s action or together with
other non-anonymous reports)
• eight of these 12 proceedings concerned secret cartels
2
December 7, 2023 Italy
The new whistleblowing platform
• Objective: incentivising anyone in possession of confidential information on
alleged competition infringements to disclose it anonymously
• the platform is directed to individuals who have become aware of antitrust
offences through their job or carrying out their duties (employees or former
employees, clients, purchasers, suppliers, competitors) and do not want to reveal
their identity
• Functioning: the platform is managed by an external service provider (the
same provider used by the European Commission) and enables a two-way
confidential communication between the whistle-blower and the AGCM
• it allows to send and receive encrypted messages without tracing the IP address of
the whistle-blower
• the whistle-blower has the possibility to submit a complaint, simply by filling a form
requesting certain information, such as the description of the alleged
anticompetitive conducts, the effects that were produced, and the parties involved
• possibility to upload documents to better illustrate the alleged anticompetitive
behavior
• creation of an Inbox for subsequent anonymous interlocutions: crucial for obtaining
additional information or clarifications from the whistle-blower while safeguarding
anonymity
3
December 7, 2023 Italy
Initial results of the whistleblowing platform
• From March to November 2023, the AGCM received more than
one hundred complaints, resulting in:
• several ongoing interactions with anonymous complainants via
Inbox
• the opening of three cartel proceedings against:
1. oil operators (July 2023) for an alleged price coordination that led to
simultaneous price increases in the bio-component cost of the retail
price of automotive fuel, of which at least 10% must consist of bio fuel:
the value of bio fuel rose from €20/m3 in 2019 to around €60/m3
when the investigation was initiated, with an overall impact on pump
prices of around €2 billion
2. seven foundries (September 2023) for suspected coordination in list
price increases of cast iron to their customers: this market is
characterized by (i) significant switching costs and (ii) high utilization
rate of the foundries’ production capacity
3. nine major producers of hollow glass (November 2023) for a suspected
concerted practice aimed at simultaneous and similar increases of price
lists of wine glass bottles (in this case, the AGCM received also two non
anonymous complaints)
4
December 7, 2023 Italy

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Alternatives to Leniency Programmes – ITALY – December 2023 OECD discussion

  • 1. Alternatives to Leniency Programs The recent implementation of the whistleblowing platform in Italy OCDE Paris, December 7, 2023 Saverio Valentino 1 Italy
  • 2. Decreasing role of leniency in cartel detection • Since 2016, almost 90% of the cartel decisions adopted by the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) were based on ex-officio investigations • Anonymous complaints have always played a significant role in ensuring the effectiveness of the ex-officio investigations initiated by the AGCM • between 2013 and 2022, the AGCM closed 12 formal proceedings, initiated thanks to anonymous reports (either as the only source of the AGCM’s action or together with other non-anonymous reports) • eight of these 12 proceedings concerned secret cartels 2 December 7, 2023 Italy
  • 3. The new whistleblowing platform • Objective: incentivising anyone in possession of confidential information on alleged competition infringements to disclose it anonymously • the platform is directed to individuals who have become aware of antitrust offences through their job or carrying out their duties (employees or former employees, clients, purchasers, suppliers, competitors) and do not want to reveal their identity • Functioning: the platform is managed by an external service provider (the same provider used by the European Commission) and enables a two-way confidential communication between the whistle-blower and the AGCM • it allows to send and receive encrypted messages without tracing the IP address of the whistle-blower • the whistle-blower has the possibility to submit a complaint, simply by filling a form requesting certain information, such as the description of the alleged anticompetitive conducts, the effects that were produced, and the parties involved • possibility to upload documents to better illustrate the alleged anticompetitive behavior • creation of an Inbox for subsequent anonymous interlocutions: crucial for obtaining additional information or clarifications from the whistle-blower while safeguarding anonymity 3 December 7, 2023 Italy
  • 4. Initial results of the whistleblowing platform • From March to November 2023, the AGCM received more than one hundred complaints, resulting in: • several ongoing interactions with anonymous complainants via Inbox • the opening of three cartel proceedings against: 1. oil operators (July 2023) for an alleged price coordination that led to simultaneous price increases in the bio-component cost of the retail price of automotive fuel, of which at least 10% must consist of bio fuel: the value of bio fuel rose from €20/m3 in 2019 to around €60/m3 when the investigation was initiated, with an overall impact on pump prices of around €2 billion 2. seven foundries (September 2023) for suspected coordination in list price increases of cast iron to their customers: this market is characterized by (i) significant switching costs and (ii) high utilization rate of the foundries’ production capacity 3. nine major producers of hollow glass (November 2023) for a suspected concerted practice aimed at simultaneous and similar increases of price lists of wine glass bottles (in this case, the AGCM received also two non anonymous complaints) 4 December 7, 2023 Italy