Austria’s leading contractor Strabag A.G. and an affiliate face a $54-million fine from that country's Cartel Court for anti-competitive activities in winning work in the country's building and civil construction sectors.
The penalty follows investigations by the Austrian Federal Competition Authority in a probe into suspected bid rigging on thousands of contracts worth up to $71 million by more than 40 companies between 2002 and 2017.
Having cooperated with the investigation and admitted culpability, Strabag was eligible for a reduced fine, according to the authority. The contractor also set up a "novel monitoring system to prevent future breaches of the ban on cartels," the agency notes.
The court is empowered to impose fines equivalent to 10% of a company's total sales in the previous year.
The contractor's holding company Strabag SE ranks at No. 14 on ENR's 2020 list of the Top 150 Global Contractors, with $18.6 billion in previous year revenue, of which $15.6 billion is not in Austria.
“The fact that the accusations have been partially substantiated ...i s a great personal disappointment for me," said Thomas Birtel, CEO of Strabag SE. "But we have learned our lesson."
Strabag was among contractors whose offices were raided by the authority in 2017, which last October filed an application to the Cartel Court to impose fines on an unnamed company and three of its subsidiaries for price fixing and anti competitive bidding on contracts.
The authority then started court proceedings this April against seven companies from another Austrian construction group for taking part in a nationwide cartel. This group declined to cooperate under the leniency program, according to the authority.