On July 13, 2021, the Federal Commission for Economic Competition (COFECE) published in the Federal Monitor1 the notice regarding the initiation of an investigation due to possible absolute monopolistic practices allegedly exercised in the market for maritime transport services in the State of Quintana Roo.
Absolute monopoly practices are anti-competitive agreements, contracts or arrangements between competing economic agents, which have as their object or effect the manipulation of prices, the restriction or limitation of supply or demand, the division or segmentation of markets, the agreement or coordination of bids in auctions, as well as the exchange of information between competitors to carry out any of the aforementioned conduct. These practices can also be qualified as horizontal practices or cartels.
Cartel practices are considered null and void and therefore will not produce any legal effect. If the existence of an absolute monopolistic practice is proven, the responsible economic agents can be fined up to 10% of their annual income (in Mexico). Those who have participated in or contributed to a cartel practice can 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 that a company receives a request for information from COFECE, a response to this request is required, failing which the company that does not comply with the request may be liable to a fine.
- COFECE is empowered to carry out searches (unannounced on-site visits to a company’s offices, through which it can request information and/or copy documents related to the market under investigation). In these cases, it is recommended that you contact the company’s legal department and seek the advice of an antitrust attorney immediately. Obstruction or failure to obey orders during a dawn raid may result in fines and/or criminal penalties.
- In some cases, COFECE deems it necessary to summon certain persons if it presumes that these persons may have knowledge of the market under investigation. These individuals may include any technical or management personnel of companies offering market-related products and services. In the event that COFECE summons one of your employees, it is recommended that you consult an antitrust lawyer.
- The investigation should not be understood as a judgment, but as an action by the authority to verify compliance with Mexican federal antitrust law.
The duration of this investigation is 120 working days, starting on December 10, 2021 – the date of the initiation of the investigation, and can be extended up to four times.
1 DOF July 13, 2022, File No. IO-004-2021, Spanish