The Competition Council launched an investigation concerning the possible fraudulent public tenders organized by the National Company of Electricity Transelectrica for the attribution of works of maintenance, modernization and refurbishment of Electrical Transport Grid, show the institution.
The investigation was triggered based on some information provided by Transelectrica, who has noticed a possible anti-competitive behavior of companies Energobit S.A., ELM Electromontaj Cluj S.A, Societatea pentru Servicii de Mentenanță a Rețelei Electrice de Transport Smart S.A. and Energotech S.A., in two tenders for “upgrading substation 400/110/20kV Domnești” and “modernization of electrical substation 220/110kV Râureni”.
“Starting from the issues noticed by the contracting authority, we analyze all tenders for the works in question, as an agreement for sharing contracts is possible. It is very important to identify and correct the malfunctions in public procurement so that, in the end, we have an efficient spending of public funds”, said Bogdan Chiriţoiu, president of the Competition Council.
In the course of this investigation, in December 2017, the Competition Authority carried out unannounced inspections at the headquarters of the companies and the documents raised during the inspections were analyzed by the Competition Council in the specific investigative procedure. Unannounced inspections constitute a preliminary stage of the investigation, and their performance does not represent in any form a positioning from the Competition Council regarding the existence of a violation of the Competition Law.
If the Competition Council finds violation of the competition rules, the companies involved are liable to fines of up to 10% of their turnover. However, companies which cooperate with the competition authority under the leniency program may obtain immunity from fines or substantial reductions in fines.
In 2016, CNTEE Transelectrica carried out almost simultaneously two auctions concerning the refurbishment and modernization of two transformer power stations. They are the rehabilitation of the 400/110/20 kV Domnesti station and the re-technologization of the 220/110 kV Râureni station. Both procedures were based on the lowest price and the electronic phase as the final phase.
Following the electronic phase of the tender for the refurbishment of Domnesti station, the bidders on the first two places were: bidder 1 – SMART SA with subcontractor Energotech SA, and bidder 2 – Energobit SA in association with ELM Electromontaj Cluj S.A.
The procedure was asked to the Competition Council for the fact that the two bidders used to justify the seemingly unusually low price identical phrases and terminologies.
Following the electronic tender phase for the refurbishment of the Râureni railway station, the bidders on the first two places were: bidder 1 – Energotech SA and bidder 2 – SMART SA.
In the case of the Râureni procedure, given the unusually low price in relation to what was to be provided or executed, CNTEE Transelectrica SA requested clarification from the bidder placed in the 1st place. The fact that the bidder did not answer, and so it excluded itself from the procedure, raised suspicions for the evaluation committee, given the possible violation of the procedure.
Taking into account the above-mentioned aspects and the fact that two of the companies participating in the tender for the Domnesti Station were competing against each other in the case of the Râureni station auction, CNTEE Transelectrica found elements regarding a possible understanding between the participants in the auctions and notified the Competition Council in September 2016.
At present, as the tender procedures were finalized, the rehabilitation works of the Domnesti Station are being carried out by Energobit SA (the value of the contract is 24,897,000 euros), and the refurbishment works of the Râureni station are executed by SMART SA (the value of the contract is 16,856,207 lei). The two contracts are currently being carried out without any problems.