Imprisonment and heavier penalties to be introduced for competition law violators

The Minister of Development announced plans to modify certain provisions of Law 703/77 on protection of free competition, aiming at strengthening the Hellenic Competition Commission’s powers and operational effectiveness.

The bill introduces imprisonment of at least 8 months and up to 5-years for those who violate competition law and increases the current fines (today ranging from euro 3.000 to 30.000) to euro 15.000-150.000. The sentence of 3-months imprisonment for obstructing an investigation, refusing to supply information or supplying false information increases to at least 6 months, while the current fine for same offences increases from 10.000 to 50.000 euro.

The new bill contains a number of structural and other administrative measures to reform the way the HCC is organized and operates, such as: a separate Directorate shall deal with the economic substantiation of competition law issues; the Director General shall be appointed by the Commission in plenary session and not by the Minister of Development; the Commission shall consist of 9 members (11 today), four of which shall be appointed on an exclusive full-time basis; the Commission’s inspectors shall be vested with increased investigatory powers.