According to Iceland State Radio, RÚV, Iceland’s oil companies will not accept the decision of the Competition Authority to fine them for price-fixing. Oil importer and distributor company Olíufélagið, the local Esso distributor, has already filed a lawsuit. The two other distributors Olís and Skeljungur are expected to follow.
On a different note, one man has sued the owner of Olíufélagið, holding company Ker, and demanded reparations.
The oil companies are expected to sue the Icelandic government even though the companies have admitted to price fixing and apologized to the nation.
In Iceland’s largest price fixing scandal, Iceland’s Competition Authority found last year that the three oil companies had conspired to fix prices in several markets and fined them ISK 1.5 billion. (see Daily News, June 3, “Investigation of oil companies continues”)
Olíufélagið is suing on the grounds that the methods used by the Competition Authority to calculate the ill-gotten gains of the price fixing are invalid. It demands that the decision of the Competition Authority be made invalid; failing that, that the fines be significantly reduced or withdrawn.
It is widely expected that if the Court rules against the oil companies a wake of lawsuits against them will follow from parties demanding reparation for economic damage suffered because of price fixing.
Competition Surveillance Authority supersedes Competition Authority
A controversial new legislation takes effect on July 1st when the Competition Authority will be closed and a new Competition Surveillance Authority established in its place.
The new institution inherits over 70 complaints and ongoing investigations from the old one.
The Chief Executive of the new Authority, Páll Gunnar Pálsson, former Chief Executive of the Financial Supervisory Authority, is quoted on Iceland State Radio, RÚV, saying that surveillance of competition must be reinforced and hitherto opaque cross-ownership and governance structures must be made transparent. He hopes to double the number of analysts working at the Authority.