According to the Italian tax agency, the four firms worked together to lower the public tender’s pricing in order to win the €66m contract with COONSIP, a joint-stock company held by the Italian ministry of economy and finance, neutralising the competition “outside the cartel”.
Deloitte, however, said in a statement, “Although we recognise the important role of the AGCM in the enforcement of competition rules, we respectfully disagree with its findings and reserve the right to bring an action for annulment of the decision, after its careful review.”
EY and KPMG received the biggest fines, at €8.56m and €7.66m respectively. Deloitte was fined with a €5.96m bill and PwC was ordered to pay €1.52m.
The AGCM called the case “one of the most serious infringements of the competitive law”.
It added that, if the firms had been guided by competitive competition logic, the tender would have seen more favourable results.
PwC told economia the legal case against the firm was “insufficient”, and EY said it was considering next steps with counsel following the decision.
A PwC spokesperson said, “We are disappointed with the outcome of the competition enquiry and believe the legal case against PwC is insufficient. As we made clear in our submission, PwC did not benefit in any way from the awarding of the contracts in question, none of which were awarded to PwC.
“We continue to be committed to the highest standards of ethical behaviour. Each year all of our people are required to undergo training on the importance of integrity and professional ethics in everything we do”.
An EY spokesperson said “Reconta Ernst & Young and Ernst & Young Financial-Business Advisors are carefully reviewing the decision of the Italian competition authority released on 7 November 2017 and will consider next steps with counsel.
“We continue to cooperate fully with the authority. EY is committed to full and fair competition in our conduct and the markets in which we do business, as reinforced by our global policies and compliance program.”
A KPMG Italy spokesperson declined to comment.