Competition authority investigates Lesvos headstone ‘cartel’

Competition authority investigates Lesvos headstone ‘cartel’

Fifteen monumental stone companies and a charity that runs a nursing home are accused of running a price-fixing cartel for cemetery headstones for almost 15 years on Lesvos, the country’s competition authority has said.

In a statement issued earlier this week, the Hellenic Competition Commission said an investigation had revealed that the 15 stone companies, which should have offered competitive market prices for the erection of cemetery monuments in Mytilene’s first and second cemeteries, and the charity had set up a cartel that applied fixed prices for headstones, to the disadvantage of customers.

The commission said it will decide at a meeting next month on whether to issue fines to those involved in the alleged cartel, which has been operating since 2007.

The commission’s statement named the charity as the Mytilene Charity Institutions. A private law legal entity, the charity runs a care unit for the elderly and chronically ill and also offers scholarships for undergraduate and postgraduate studies.

The charity is governed by a nine-member board of directors, under the chairmanship of the metropolitan bishop of Mytilene.

According to the charity’s website, the finance ministry appoints two board members from the local community, while other members are drawn from the island’s professional chambers.

“This case highlights the importance given by the Hellenic Competition Commission to the protection of competition, not also nationally but also locally, particularly on the Greek islands where the effects of anti-competitive practices may be more severe due to their relative market isolation,” the commission statement said.

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