Cyprus has a new leniency programme in place, implemented and supervised by the Cyprus Commission for the Protection of Competition (the CPC).
Under the CPC’s new leniency programme (the Cyprus Leniency Programme), companies that provide sufficient information to the CPC about an anticompetitive agreement or concerted practice (a Cartel) in which they have participated may receive full or partial immunity from potential fines the CPC may impose.
The Cyprus Leniency Programme offers undertakings involved in a Cartel the opportunity to report themselves and hand over evidence to the CPC regarding the Cartel, with a view to obtain either total immunity from fines or a reduction of the fines, which the CPC would have otherwise imposed on them.
Immunity from fines may become relevant for an undertaking which is the first to submit information and evidence to the CPC on an alleged Cartel which in the CPC’s view will enable it carry out a targeted inspection in connection with the alleged Cartel, or find an infringement of applicable Cypriot competition law.
Reduced fines may become relevant for an undertaking that provides the CPC with evidence of the alleged Cartel which represents significant added value with respect to the evidence already in the CPC’s possession in respect of the alleged Cartel.
For an undertaking to benefit from the Cyprus Leniency Programme it must meet certain conditions, including (amongst others) the following:
- it must cooperate fully, genuinely, on a continuous basis and expeditiously with the CPC from the time of its application for leniency until the end of the investigation
- it must provide the CPC promptly with all relevant information and evidence relating to the alleged Cartel
- it must remain at the disposal of the CPC to answer any request that may contribute to the establishment of facts
- it must make directors, managers and other members of staff available for interviews with the CPC and make reasonable efforts to make former directors, managers and other members of staff available for such interviews
- it must not destroy, falsify or conceal relevant information or evidence
- it must not disclose the fact of, or any of the content of, its leniency application before the CPC issues a statement of objections, unless otherwise agreed
- it must have ended its involvement in the alleged Cartel at the latest immediately following its leniency application, except for what would, in the CPC’s view, be reasonably necessary to preserve the integrity of its investigation
- when contemplating to apply for leniency, it must not have destroyed, falsified or concealed information or evidence of the alleged Cartel or disclosed the contemplated application to third parties (other than the European Commission or other national competition authorities).
The Cyprus Leniency Programme also makes available markets for the purposes of claiming priority in the leniency process.
The new regime is in place on the heels of a modernisation of the overarching statutory framework on competition in 2022 and signficantly enhances legal certainty in the handling of disclosures of anti-competitive behaviour, enabling the consistent treatment of such disclosures by the CPC.
The Cyprus Leniency Programme is aligned with the regime under Directive (EU) 2019/1 to empower the competition authorities of the Member States to be more effective enforcers and to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market.
Contact our competition practice to discuss your precise requirements on leniency under Cyprus competition law.