The competition authority (ADC) accuses the insurance companies Fidelidade, Lusitânia, Multicare, Seguradoras Unidas (former Tranquilidade and Açoreana) and the Portuguese branch of Zurich Insurance, which are "a cartel for market sharing and price fixing".
In a statement, the regulator said that in this notice of illegality of the AdC "also 14 owners of administrative or administrative bodies of the companies are targeted, because they are involved in the offense in question."
"The horizontal agreement (cartel) will last about seven years," says the AdC, without clarifying the data.
On 24 June, PÚBLICO announced that the competition authority's investigation into possible cartel formation in the insurance sector was the result of a Tranquilidade complaint in 2017.
The alleged cartel, says the AdC now, "will have had an impact on the costs of insurance contracted by large business customers of these insurance companies, namely in sub-branches work, health and car accidents."
These subdepartments are each controlled by 50% of the companies that are now involved in the research, which started more than a year ago, according to AdC.
"The suit was opened by the AdC in May 2017," the entity headed by Margarida Matos Rosa, "conducted" research and seizure research in June and July of that year in the facilities of the targeted companies in Greater Lisbon.
The opening of the investigation "took place after the complaint to the ADC by companies participating in the cartel", is only mentioned in the note instrument under the Clemency program. What could, in practice, exempt it from fines: "the first company to denounce a cartel in which it participates can benefit from the exemption from the fine," the statement said.
The scheme provides for "exemption or reduction of fines in cartel cases under investigation" by competition, but undertakings submitting the first complaint of the cartel "can still benefit from an ever-lower reduction of fines".
The competition authority recalls that the "establishment of a notification of illegality is not decisive for the final outcome of the investigation".
Fidelity and Multicare prepare for defense
Already in response to the announcement of the AdC, the Fidelidade group (85% of the Chinese Fosun and 15% of Caixa Geral de Depósitos), also owner of Multicare, acknowledges that the note of illegality directed at the two companies, "under other insurers "and" Some of its representatives and employees "is the result of" research carried out since last year ". And in that they guarantee that "the companies of the group have fully cooperated with the AdC".
The administration of the Fidelidade group, in a note to the editors, said that "companies will carefully analyze the received documents for the exercise of their right of defense."
It adds that "the Fidelidade group reaffirms its full compliance with the applicable legal standards" and emphasizes that "its behavior in the Portuguese insurance market was driven by the responsible demand for conditions for systemic sustainability, following the regulatory concern about the sector which has been continuously transmitted by the respective authorities, in particular with regard to the sustainability of the work-related accidents, and which is always aimed at protecting the interests of its policyholders. "