Construction cartel: BWB makes a new attempt against Strabag’s leniency status

The Federal Competition Authority files an appeal against the decision of the Cartel Court with the Supreme Court.

After the construction giant Strabag was allowed to retain its status as a leniency witness in the construction cartel based on a decision by the cartel court, the Federal Competition Authority (BWB) went to the supreme court. The BWB announced on Thursday that it has now lodged an appeal against the cartel court decision with the Supreme Court as the higher cartel court. The BWB sees it as likely that Strabag, despite its leniency status, may not be cooperating sufficiently.

The BWB presented “new available facts and evidence” to the cartel court as justification for Strabag’s leniency witness status being revoked. However, Strabag retained its leniency status. According to the BWB, a number of legal questions in connection with the assessment made by the Cartel Court will now be submitted to the High Cartel Court for review.

Doubts of the WKStA

In essence, it is about the legal question of whether a company in a cartel can retain its leniency status if it later turns out that the agreements went further than expected. From the point of view of the BWB, there could be a legal gap here that the legislature would have to close.

In the case of Strabag, the procedure was legally concluded in October 2021. The listed construction giant paid a reduced fine of €45.37 million. Without leniency and cooperation with the authorities, the penalty would have been higher. In the course of further investigations by the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Economic Affairs and Corruption (WKStA), the BWB had doubts as to whether Strabag had actually disclosed everything that she knew.