On 13 July 2021, the Federal Economic Competition Commission (COFECE) published in the Federal Official Gazette1 the notice regarding the initiation of an investigation due to possible absolute monopolistic practices allegedly carried out in the market for maritime transportation services in the state of Quintana Roo.
Absolute monopolistic practices are anti-competitive agreements, contracts or arrangements between competing economic agents, whose object or effect is the manipulation of prices, restriction or limitation of supply or demand, division or segmentation of markets, agreement or coordination of bids in auctions, as well as the exchange of information between competitors to carry out any of the aforementioned conducts. These practices can also be referred to as horizontal or cartel practices.
Cartel practices are considered null and void and, consequently, shall not produce any legal effect. If the existence of an absolute monopolistic practice is proven, the responsible economic agents may be fined up to 10% of their annual income (in Mexico). Those who have participated or contributed to a cartel practice may be imprisoned for up to ten years under Mexican criminal law.
- During this investigation process, COFECE may request information and documents from companies that offer products and services related to the market under investigation. In the event a company receives a request for information from COFECE, a response to such request is required, otherwise, the company that fails to comply with the request may be subject to a fine.
- COFECE has the authority to conduct dawn raids (unannounced on-site visits to a company’s offices, through which it may request information and/or copy documents related to the market under investigation). In these cases, it is recommended to contact the company’s legal department and seek immediate advice from a lawyer specialized in antitrust matters. Obstruction or failure to comply with orders during a dawn raid may result in fines and/or criminal penalties.
- In some cases, COFECE considers it necessary to summon certain individuals if it presumes that such individuals may have knowledge of the market under investigation. These individuals may include any technical or managerial personnel of companies offering products and services related to the market. In the event COFECE summons any of your employees, it is recommended to consult with an antitrust attorney.
In more detail
- The investigation should not be understood as a judgment, but as an action by the authority to verify compliance with the Federal Mexican Antitrust Law.
The term for this investigation is up to 120 business days, starting 10 December 2021 – the date of the initiation of the investigation, and can be extended up to four times.