Estonian court closes proceeding regarding people tried in Liviko competition case

People tried on competition related charges in a case centered on the Tallinn-based alcohol producer Liviko will escape sentences as the court at the end of last week terminated criminal proceedings with regard to them due to lack of public interest, reports LETA/BNS.

The proposal to terminate proceedings was made by the Office of the Prosecutor General at the end of last week and the court found on Friday that the case can be closed because of the lack of public interest in proceedings.

Upon closing the case, the court placed various financial obligations on the accused.Martin Penuwas ordered to pay 4,100 euros,Riho Mauer5,000 euros and ASLiviko458.57 euros into the state coffers. The accused also must cover the expenses for their own defense - said.

The decision to terminate criminal proceedings was made with regard to the part of the so-calledLivikocase having to with alcohol stores situated in the Tallinn port area and with allegedly unlawful acts committed in 2011.

"The statement of charges concerning the episodes of offense conduct committed in the port area was sent to court already two years ago. Considering that by nowLivikohas been punished for committing a cartel crime and almost six years has passed since the episodes ofoffense conduct committed in the port area, the prosecutor's office decided to seek termination of criminal proceedings concerning the episodes ofoffense conduct related to the port area," the Office of the Prosecutor General said.

The prosecutor's office accused four individuals andLivikoof acting in concert in pricing in a way that undermines competition. Of the physical persons two were employees ofLivikoand two employees of a business deleted from the commercial register. The criminal investigation was opened in 2014 and the act allegedly undermining competition was committed in 2011, according to the charge sheet.

The charges lodged against the accused concern communication allegedly undermining competition that occurred betweenLivikoand then employees of OUAldar Eesti.

Livikohas denied any wrongdoing.

"The charges have been separated from the so-called retail chain competition case to prevent them from being dumped as a result of the expiry of the limitation period and they too have to do with an exchange of messages from about five years ago, so effectively this is not a new case,"Erki Kergandberg, lawyer forLiviko, has said earlier.

Livikohas been charged previously as a business in the so-called vodka cartel case which the Tallinn appeals court in 2015 decided to terminate. The chief prosecutor's office then took the case to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the matter had not expired and ordered the circuit court to examine the case anew. The circuit court on Dec. 15, 2016 upheld the ruling of the first-tier Harju county court from April 2015 which found the alcoholic beverages makerLivikoand several large retail chains guilty of forming a cartel agreement. Thereafter the defendants took the matter to the Supreme Court, whose rejection of the appeals in June this year made the verdicts final.

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