Moldova: Competition Council
Moldova, Republic of
Abstract Shape Background
Moldova: Competition Council

Moldova: Competition Council

Moldova, Republic of

Moldova: from the enforcer

Address: 1 Alecu Russo Street, MD-2068, Chisinau, Moldova
Tel: +373 22 27 45 65
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.competition.md

Contacts

image-20221006145512-1
Alexei Gherțescu
Competition Council President
Chair of the Competition Council Plenum
Email: [email protected]

image-20221006145512-2
Mihail Cibotaru
Competition Council Vice President
Vice President of the Competition Council Plenum

image-20221006145512-3
Ion Maxim
Competition Council Vice President
Vice President of the Competition Council Plenum

image-20221006145512-4
Viorel Moșneaga
Member of the Competition Council Plenum

Questions and answers

How long is the head of agency’s term of office?

The Competition Council President is appointed for a five-year term. He can be entitled for two consecutive mandates.

When is he or she due for reappointment?

Mr Alexei Gherțescu was appointed on 17 February 2022, he is due for reappointment oin February 2027.

Which posts within the organisation are political appointments?

The President and members of the Competition Council Plenum are appointed by the Parliament, at the proposal of the Speaker of the Parliament with the endorsement of the specialty parliamentary commission. According to the Competition Law 183/2012 article 42, paragraph (2) the members of the Competition Council Plenum do not represent the appointing authority and are independent in decision making, ibidem paragraph (8) the members of the Competition Council Plenum cannot be members of political parties.

What is the agency’s annual budget?

The Competition Council budget is as follow:

year20152016201720182019202020212022
Million MDL*15,457.217,581.419,516.223,160.424,030.725,042.426,056.626,515.3

*MDL – the Republic of Moldova currency, the leu.

How many staff are employed by the agency?

As at 1 August 2022, 66 staff members are employed.

To whom does the head of the agency report?

The Competition Council is an autonomous public authority liable towards Parliament. On an annual basis, the Competition Council prepares a report on its activity. According to the modification from February 2020, the Competition Council’s report is adopted by the Competition Council Plenum, and shall be presented to the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova in plenary session by 1 June, after which it shall be published on the Competition Council official website.

Do any industry-specific regulators have competition powers?

The industry-specific regulators do not have competition powers, but according to the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova article 9, paragraph (3) and article 126 paragraph (1), (2) let. (b) all public authorities shall ensure the protection of fair competition.

If so, how do these relate to your role?

Each public authority promotes competition in their specific sectors. The Competition Council promotes fair competition in all economic sectors.

Do politicians have any right to overrule or disregard the decisions of the authority?

No.

Does the law allow non-competition aims to be considered when taking decisions?

No.

Which body hears appeals against the agency’s decisions? Is there any form of judicial review beyond that mentioned above? If so, which body conducts this?

The competent administrative litigation court hears appeals against the decisions or prescriptions issued by the Plenum of the Competition Council. The Chişinău Court, the Chişinău Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Justice are fully entitled to control the Competition Council decisions.

Has the authority ever blocked a proposed merger?

During the period 2021–2022, the Competition Council did not prohibit any notified merger. The transaction between Avia Invest SRL and Aeroport Handling SRL as of 30 June 2022, was declared incompatible with the competitive environment. The transaction was not prohibited because on 24 June 2021 it was cancelled (by selling the company Aeroport Handling SRL by Avia Invest SRL to a natural person).

The Competition Council blocked an unnotified merger between two tour operators in July 2015.

Has the authority ever imposed conditions on a proposed merger?

In order to prevent competition distortion, the Competition Council imposed conditions on mergers: in July 2014, July 2016 and September 2018. In 2019, the authority imposed conditions by Decision DCE – 54 as of 25 July2019, with reference to the merger notified by Moldretail Group SRL, what was to be achieved by taking over the lease and sublease of some commercial spaces for the retail activity in non-specialist stores, with the predominant sale of food, beverages and tobacco products belonging to the company Slavena Lux SRL.

Has the authority conducted a Phase II investigation in any of its merger filings?

The Competition Council conducted a Phase II investigation in some of its merger filings in 2014, 2016, 2018. In 2020, the Competition Council entered a Phase II investigation on the notification of the operation of taking control by Banca Transilvania JSC over Microinvest SRL.

In 2022, the Competition Council examines two mergers to be carried out in Phase II:

  • the merger between the undertakings Basarabia – Agro SRL and Elevator Com Group SRL,
  • the merger between the undertakings Agrotera Sud SRL, Valmadol SRL and Gîrleafarms SRL.

All undertakings are present on the market for the wholesale trade of wheat, sunflower seeds, maize and barley.

Has the authority ever pursued a company based outside your jurisdiction for a cartel offence?

No.

Do you operate a leniency programme? Whom should potential applicants contact?

The section III, articles 84–92 of the Competition Law refer to the leniency programme. Applicants should directly contact the Competition Council.

In 2018–2019, only one leniency application was submitted to the Competition Council regarding an investigation concerning the concluding of alleged anticompetitive agreements on bid rigging by the undertakings involved in public procurement procedures.

It is important to point out that it was only in 2018 that the Law for amending the Criminal Code was approved to exempt from the application of the Criminal Law the representatives of the undertakings which collaborate with the Competition Council. Following the entry into force of these amendments, the natural persons are granted the right to be exempt from criminal liability, if they are representatives of the undertakings collaborating with the Competition Council, within the limits of the leniency policy provided by the Competition Law.

Is there a criminal enforcement track? If so, who is responsible for it?

Within the authority does not exist a criminal enforcement track, but according to article 41 letter (p) of the Competition Law No. 183/2012, the Competition Council Plenum makes decisions regarding reporting to criminal investigation bodies or other competent bodies on possible violations of the legislation in force.

Are there any plans to reform the competition law?

The year 2020 began with the Competition Law amendment. According to Directive No. 1/2019 of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, it was entrusted to EU member states and associated countries to amend the competition law. The project is ongoing.

When did the last review of the law occur?

The last review of the law occurred in September 2021, by Law No. 121/2021 for the modification of some normative acts. Article 44 of Competition Law No. 183/2012 was amended as follows:

The relevant Parliamentary committee will objectively and transparently analyse the institutional management, acts adopted by the authority, activity and audit reports, complaints, petitions, individual activity objectives and performance indicators for the assessed person, other relevant data and information accumulated and presented to the commission. Based on the analysis carried out, the relevant Parliamentary committee draws up a report by which it assesses the managerial and professional skills of the member of the Competition Council Plenum, the way in which he or she performs his or her duties or, as the case may be, assesses the efficiency of the authority’s activity. Thus, if the commission finds the improper execution or non-execution of his or her duties, based on the report drawn up, the Parliament, with the vote of the majority of elected deputies, can revoke the members of the Competition Council Plenum.

Do you have a separate economics team? If so please give details.

There is no separate economics unit or team, but within each Competition Council Directorate the staff is mixed: economists and lawyers. We can also mention that, within the Competition Council we have the Research and Analytical Directorate, which is mostly focused on economic analysis.

Has the authority conducted a dawn raid?

In 2015, the authority conducted dawn raids in five cases: in exchange offices, in grocery supermarkets, in electronics supermarkets, at the premises of baby food companies and at the premises of an airport operator.

In 2016, one dawn raid was conducted on undertakings acting in the market of public procurement in constructions and renovations.

In 2017, eight dawn raids (each to several undertakings) were carried out in the following areas: transportation, commercialisation of gas, commercialisation of computer engineering, video monitoring services, engineering installations, construction and tourism.

In 2018–2019, the Competition Council carried out 48 down raids (32 in 2018 and 16 in 2019) on cartel cases and one down raid on abuse of dominant position case.

In 2020, 11 down raids were carried out on the fuel and chemical trading markets.

In 2021, 13 dawn raids were carried out on the chemical trading market.

As of 1 August 2022, seven dawn raids, each to several undertakings, were carried out mostly on the construction market.

Has the authority imposed penalties on officers or directors of companies for offences committed by the company?

No.

What are the pre-merger notification thresholds, if any, for the buyer and seller involved in a merger?

According to article 22 paragraph (1) of the Competition Law No. 183/2012, mergers are subject to assessment and shall be notified to the Competition Council prior to their implementation, if the aggregate amount of the turnover of the undertakings concerned registered for the year prior to the operation exceeds 25,00,000 leu and there are at least two undertakings concerned in the operation that register each separately a turnover of more than 10,000,000 leu for the year prior to the operation, on the territory of Moldova. However, according to the provisions of article 251 of the Competition Law 183/2012, special legislative acts in the field of media may provide thresholds for mergers notification other than the thresholds specified above.

Are there any restrictions on minority investments?

No.

What discounts are available to companies that cooperate with cartel investigation?

According to article 89 of the Competition Law No. 183/2012, the undertakings and the associations of undertakings that disclose their participation in an agreement that affects the competition, may benefit from a reduction of the fine quantum, compared to the level that would have been applied regularly. Article 89 paragraph (7) let. a), b), c) establishes  the discounts from which undertakings can benefit depending on the gravity of the deed and the moment when they started to cooperate with Competition Council.

Does the authority conduct criminal investigations and prosecutions for cartel activity? If not, is there another authority in the country that does?

The Competition Council does not conduct criminal investigations and prosecutions for cartel activity. The criminal prosecution body responsible for conducting criminal investigations is the Prosecution Office. Individuals and undertakings involved in anticompetitive behaviour may be subject to criminal investigations under the provisions of articles 246 and 2461 of the Moldovan Criminal Code. From the available information, we can say that so far no person or undertaking has been criminally sanctioned for violating the competition law. In 2018, the Law for amending the Criminal Code was adopted to exempt representatives of undertakings collaborating with the Competition Council within the limits of the leniency policy provided by the Competition Law 183/2012.

The Competition Council is preparing proposals to amend the criminal legislation regarding the initiation of criminal prosecution in the case of certain categories of crimes, in the case of the Competition Council, criminal prosecution for carrying out cartel activity. The proposals are to be submitted to the Parliament.


Moldova: from the enforcer's competition economists

Address: 1 Alecu Russo Street, MD-2068, Chisinau, Moldova
Tel: +373 22 27 45 65
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.competition.md

Contacts

image-20221007125801-1
Alexei Gherțescu
Competition Council President,
Chair of the Competition Council Plenum

[email protected]

image-20221007125801-2
Mihail Cibotaru
Competition Council Vice President
Vice President of the Competition Council Plenum

image-20221007125801-3
Ion Maxim
Competition Council Vice President
Vice President of the Competition Council Plenum

image-20221007125801-4
Viorel Moșneaga
Member of the Competition Council Plenum

Questions and Answers

How many economists do you employ?

There are 26 economists employed at the Competition Council.

Do you have a separate economics unit?

There is no a separate economics unit, but within each Competition Council Directorate the staff is mixed: economists and lawyers. Besides, there is a Research and Analytics Department predominantly composed of economists.

Do you have a chief economist?

There is no chief economist.

How many of your economists have a PhD in industrial economics?

There are two staff members who have a PhD in economics.

Does the agency include a specialist economist on every case team? If not, why not?

The Competition Council internal regulation does not expressly provide for one of the case team members to be an economist. It depends on every specific case. Usually, the cases imply some economical evaluation and estimation, thus an economist is included in the case team.

How much economics work is outsourced? What type of work is outsourced?

Because of the limited funding, there is almost no economics work being outsourced.

 enforcer_hub-2022_figure.jpg

View all profiles

Unlock unlimited access to all Global Competition Review content