They are sanctioned for entering into an agreement to establish, through their suppliers, a minimum selling price of chicken in natura between 2008 and 2011.
The Free Competition Court (TDLC) issued a decision at the request of the National Economic Prosecutor's Office (FNE) in collusion against Cencosud, SMU and Walmart, condemning supermarket chains.
"To have participated in an agreement or concerted practice, either on its own or through related parties, was intended to establish, through its suppliers, a price for the sale of fresh chicken meat equal to or greater than its wholesale list price. less the years of 2008 and 2011, "the TDLC said in the ruling.
However, Cencosud is sanctioned with $ 3,345 million for $ 1,994 million and $ 2,452 million for Walmart. Accordingly, accused chains must pay more than $ 8 billion in fines.
The TDLC accepted the complaint filed in January 2016 by the National Economic Prosecutor's Office (FNE), which stated that these companies maintained, through their suppliers, an agreement to set minimum prices for the sale of this food at least between 2008 and 2011, to restrict competition in this sector.
In this way, the FNE noted that the chains "consciously adhered to a common scheme that replaced the risks of competition for practical cooperation between them" with the aim of "regularizing the market" and "avoiding price wars".
This mechanism was exposed in the context of the investigation carried out in the so-called chicken case, in which birds Agrosuper, Ariztía and Don Pollo were condemned in October 2015 by the Federal Supreme Court to fines totaling 74,000 UTA, equivalent to more than US $ 55 millions at the time.
Based on the indications detected in these investigations, on December 14, 2011, entry, registration and seizure were carried out in the dependencies of the actors in the supermarket sector. In this effort, it was possible to gather various background information (content in computer equipment and backups by e-mail) that gave account of the contacts made between executives of supermarket chains and chicken suppliers.
The documents revealed that the former complained by telephone or by e-mail before the second, when they detected that another chain deviated from the agreement not to sell under the wholesale price list. The aim of these efforts was for suppliers to act as intermediaries, prompting the other chain of non-compliance to comply with the agreed guidelines.
In order for the agreement to work, the required chains constantly monitored the prices of their competitors' chicken meat sold to the public both by internal staff and by outside contractors for that purpose.
Following the TDLC's ruling today, the parties have 10 business days to submit a complaint to the Supreme Court.
"The National Economic Prosecutor reiterates that collusion is the most serious attack against free competition and a priority focus of its mission, and the institution is currently evaluating the content of the TDLC ruling," the agency said. a declaration.