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November 16, 2017

Italian antitrust authority fines Big Four total of $26.6m for restrictive competition

By Federica Tedeschi

Italy’s antitrust authority has sanctioned the Big Four for €23.7m ($26.6m) altogether, following a violation of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which prohibits agreements that could disrupt free competition in the European Economic Area's internal market.

EY Italy and KPMG Italy face the heftiest fines, €8.6m and €7.7m respectively. Deloitte Italy was fined €5.9m and PwC Italy was fined €1.5m.

The Authority found that there has been a restrictive agreement on competition by which the Big Four compromised the outcome of a €66m public tender launched by joint-stock company CONSIP, whose sole shareholder is Italy’s ministry of economy and finance.

Three of the Big Four won most of the available contracts in the bidding process for the provision of assistance and technical support services to public administrations; however Italy’s antitrust authority established that each network presented suspicious discounts which never applied to the same contract and accused the networks of colluding to share and win the contracts.

Italy’s antitrust authority therefore fined the Big Four, but could not nullify the outcome of the tender, which ended in 2016.

PwC Italy told this magazine: “We are disappointed with the outcome of the competition enquiry and believe the legal case against PwC is insufficient. As we made clear in our submission, PwC did not benefit in any way from the awarding of the contracts in question, none of which were awarded to PwC. We continue to be committed to the highest standards of ethical behaviour. Each year all of our people are required to undergo training on the importance of integrity and professional ethics in everything we do.”

KPMG Italy declined to comment, while EY Italy and Deloitte Italy had not responded to our enquiry at the time of publication.

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