Belgacom fined for incomplete notification of acquisition

The Belgian Competition Authority (Raad voor de Mededinging) ("BCA") has imposed a fine of EUR 75,000 on Belgian telecom operator Belgacom for providing incomplete information when notifying its acquisition of the retail telecom chain The Phone House last fall.

More specifically, when providing information on the number of new clients for post-paid mobile telephony in The Phone House's stores, Belgacom omitted to include clients transferring from prepaid to post-paid. Although Belgacom corrected the error and adjusted the figures, the BCA still imposed a fine, ruling that Belgacom had impeded the efficient course of the proceedings.

Although the BCA can impose a fine of up to 1% of the annual turnover of the undertaking concerned for providing incomplete information, it decided to impose on Belgacom a more moderate fine. The authority took into consideration the limited consequences of the infringement and the fact that the error was clearly a mistake. Nevertheless, this precedent shows that even an unintentional error may lead to a fine.