Audits and sanctions: The Bureau of Supervision and Social Control of Companies (Autoridad de Fiscalización y Control Social de Empresas – AEMP) sanctions monopoly and anticompetitive activities.

Since its creation, the AEMP has regulated corporate and commercial activities from companies in general.

The AEMP is not only focused in controlling companies’ activities regarding the corporate governance, company reorganization and Registry of Commerce in general, but is also qualified to supervise and defend consumer rights while controlling antitrust trade practices, anticompetitive activities and avoiding market monopoly.

In order to promote this fair competition, the Authority audits, controls and penalizes companies that carry out practices that damage competition and as a consequence of this, final consumers.

According to the last data issued by the AEMP back in 2013, 276 companies were penalized and paid fines of up to Bs. 4,1 MM (aprox. U$ 589.000). Most of those fines came from the breach of law but also from antitrust practices. In this sense, the AEMP stated that they fined the companies “because they committed absolute or relative anticompetitive practices which restricted the free will of the competitors and affected the benefits of the consumer to access products and services in fairer conditions.”

Today, companies can be subject not only to economic sanctions but -according to Article 19 of the Supreme Decree No. 29519 dated April 16th, 2008- can even get their Commerce Registry cancelled while Managers and Directors could also be sanctioned since they should´ve being aware of the activities taken place in the company.

In this context, it is important to take into account some of the practices that AEMP has sanctioned, for instance: (i) Fixing market share and consequent limitation or restriction to the commercialization of products; (ii) Distribution or imposition of geographic spaces of the market; (iii) Simulation of prices at the expense of the competition; (iv) Creation of exclusive advantages to a group of buyers; (v) Imposition of commercialization and exclusive distribution of products to its economic agents, territorial exclusivity and subject exclusivity. (vi) Make sales of the product conditioned to exclusivity, among others of the similar nature.

In this sense, we recommend companies not only to have their commercial and corporate documents in order, but also to review commercial policies adopted and commercial agreements executed -with suppliers as well as clients- in order to make sure no antitrust practices are made.