3 supermarket chains to object to millions in fines by Turkey’s competition watchdog

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Three of Turkey’s largest supermarket chains have stated in separate announcements that they will object to a recent decision by Turkey’s Competition Authority to fine them millions of lira for price gouging, local media reported on Saturday.

The watchdog on Friday fined retail giants Migros, Carrefour, BİM, ŞOK and A101 and supplier Savola Gıda some TL 2.6 billion ($270 million) in total, as a result of investigations launched in March 2019 into 23 supermarket chains to determine if they were engaged in unfair competition after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had blamed them for the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities.

Erdoğan and leading figures of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government had blamed wholesalers and retailers for the spike in prices, claiming Turkey was targeted by what they described as “food terrorism,” instigated by outside forces.

The investigations led to the watchdog’s decision that five of the biggest market chains had violated Article 4 of Law 4054, which bans hindering fair competition, and thus they were fined.

Since the decision was announced on Friday, three of the giants, Migros, BİM and ŞOK, fined TL 517 million ($53.8 million), TL 958 million ($99.7 million) and TL 384 million ($39.9 million), respectively, have announced that they will file objections to the ruling.

The ruling allows the supermarket chains to file objections at an Ankara administrative court within 60 days from the date of the notification of the decision, according to local media reports.

Earlier in October the president said agricultural cooperatives have been ordered to open some 1,000 new supermarkets across the country to provide “suitable” prices for consumer goods.

In early 2019 — on the heels of a currency crisis that sent inflation soaring — the government opened its own markets to sell cheap vegetables and fruits directly, cutting out retailers it accused at the time of jacking up prices.

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