Portuguese competition authority AdC has imposed a total of €54m ($59.6m) fine on four insurance companies after they were found guilty for ‘cartel practices’.

After a long-running probe, a total of five insurance firms including Zurich Insurance Group, Portuguese insurer Lusitania, Fidelidade, Multicare and Seguradoras Unidas were found guilty of cartel practices.

The local branch of Zurich Insurance Group and Portuguese insurer Lusitania – Companhia de Seguros faced the largest fine, while Fidelidade and Multicare faced lesser fines due to submitting a leniency request which helped in the investigation.

Seguradoras Unidas avoided a fine as it was first to submit for a leniency request.

AdC said all five insurers ganged up on prices they presented to large corporate clients about workplace accident, health and auto insurance.

These firms presented higher prices which helped the incumbent insurer to retain their respective clients.

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The investigation formally started in May 2017, after a leniency request made by Seguradoras Unidas and Fidelidade.

In the following months of June and July 2017, the AdC carried out raids on the premises of the involved insurers, in the Lisbon metropolitan area.

In a statement, the AdC said: “The AdC’s investigation concluded that Lusitania shared the market through costumer allocation in the categories of workplace accident and auto insurance and Zurich did the same in the category of workplace accidents insurance, between 2014 and 2017.”

The quantum of fine is based on an assessment of the scale of the infringement, the company’s turnover and annual payment of the office-bearers involved.

Reuters reported that Zurich Portugal is mulling to file an appeal as it did not agree with AdC’s conclusions.

“Zurich Portugal takes these matters very seriously and it was totally transparent in its collaboration with the competition authority,” the insurer said.