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Spanish Watchdog Investigates Major Travel Agencies for Cartel Behavior

 |  December 13, 2023

In a significant development, Spain’s competition watchdog, the CNMC (National Commission of Markets and Competition), announced on Wednesday that it has initiated an investigation into several prominent travel agencies and their parent companies for suspected cartel behavior both within Spain and internationally. If proven true, the companies could face fines amounting to up to 10% of their turnover.

The CNMC, responsible for overseeing fair competition in Spain, revealed in a statement that the companies under scrutiny are accused of engaging in practices that violate both Spanish and European antitrust laws. These alleged activities include the sharing of customers, collusion in the allocation of public tenders, and the exchange of commercially sensitive information.

Among the ten companies implicated in the investigation are well-known entities such as the retail giant El Corte Ingles, the Mallorca-based tourism group Barcelo, and their respective travel agency subsidiaries. The list also includes travel firms IAG7 and Wamos.

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During the investigative process, the CNMC executed searches at the headquarters of the implicated companies between March 28 and March 31. The commission’s statement did not provide specific details on the nature or scale of the evidence discovered during these searches.

El Corte Ingles, approached for a comment on the allegations, declined to make a statement. As of now, IAG7, Wamos, and Barcelo have not responded to requests for comments on the ongoing investigation.

The CNMC emphasized that the alleged actions if confirmed, would breach antitrust laws on both national and European levels. The commission’s final ruling on the matter is expected to be delivered within two years, following the completion of a thorough and comprehensive investigation.

Source: Reuters