Vodka cartel case: Ruling against Liviko and supermarkets stands
In a retrial of the so-called vodka cartel case, the Tallinn circuit court on Thursday upheld the ruling of the first-tier Harju County court from April 2015, which found the alcoholic beverages maker Liviko as well as several large retail chains guilty of forming a cartel.
The second-tier court concluded that the lower court’s decision was lawful, consistent with the collected evidence, and thoroughly reasoned, and that there were no grounds to revoke it, a spokeswoman for the court told BNS.
On Jan. 20, 2016, the Tallinn circuit court partly quashed the county court’s Apr. 29, 2015 guilty verdict for five companies and nine individuals, and terminated the proceeding on the grounds that the limitation period had expired. The county court’s decision to acquit two defendants remained unchanged, and the prosecutor’s appeal was turned down.
Charges had been brought against Liviko, retail chains Selver, Rimi Eesti Food, Maxima Eesti, and Prisma Peremarket, as well as 11 representatives of these companies.
According to the charges, the defendants entered into an agreement in 2009 to raise the retail price of vodka with 40% alcohol content of the lower price segment to at least 63.50 kroons (EUR 4.06) for a standard half-liter bottle.
The Supreme Court in turn quashed the circuit court’s ruling on Jun. 20 this year and returned the case to the second-tier court for retrial with a new panel of judges. Contrary to the circuit court, they found that the county court had tried the accused in a correct manner and that the case had not expired.