Can companies successfully plead poverty to DG Comp?
While companies for years have been asking for reductions in fines because of their inability to pay, it took a global financial meltdown to convince the European Commission to begin accepting them.
All of the companies in the above chart had their inability to pay requests granted over the past 12 months, after the commission altered its approach to the poverty pleas and the section of the fining guidelines that governs them.
As the above chart shows, the majority of the fines have been modest. Only three of the 11 accepted poverty pleas resulted in reductions of more than 50 per cent. While it is unclear whether the commission will continue to take a more lenient stance to the request when Europe's economy improves, it appears that reductions of 50 per cent or less will be the norm when the commission does hand out discounts for a company's precarious financial position.
There's far more on the subject in GCR's accompanying investigation of the history and current state of DG Comp's approach to inability to pay requests.