The Competition Tribunal ruled in favor of the National Economic Prosecutor’s Office and Banco de Chile, in a lawsuit against S.A.C.I. Falabella and Paris S.A., for collusion and abuse of a dominant position. Falabella had to pay a fine of 8.000 Annual Tributary Units (around US$ 7,4 million) and Paris a fine of 5.000 Annual Tributary Units (around US$ 4,6 million). It was proven that both companies pressured their providers of home electronics, so that they desisted from participating in a Fair for Banco de Chile customers in April 2006, organized by the companies Travel Club and Duty Free. This prevented the Fair from happening.
The relevant market was deemed to be the distribution and retail sales of home electronics products (which include electronic items, electric appliances, computers and computer accessories) and the related credit card market. Resale price fixing practices were detected between providers and their distributors, but the Tribunal did not make a ruling about them, because they were not a part of the accused practices.
The Tribunal considered evidence of telephonic records, e-mails and statements of executives from both defendants and from their providers, in order to establish the existence and nature of the pressures that the sanctioned companies exerted.
Collusion was configured by repeated interaction between executives from the plaintiffs’ executives, which was followed by coordinated pressure actions towards providers, and the attempt to involve a third department store in the agreement.
The defendant’s arguments were discarded; the Tribunal considered that they were not plausible explanations to justify the conducts that had been proven.
To determine the fines, the Tribunal considered, among other circumstances, the fact that both companies had already been judged for actions against free competition, the gravity of their conducts, and the fact that Falabella has a larger share of the relevant market than Paris.