ALUMNI Partners successfully defends VimpelCom in a dispute over antitrust damages exceeding RUB 400 m.

The  Cassation  Court  considered  Tinkoff Bank’s appeal  in  a  case over recovery of more than RUB 400 m in antitrust damages from VimpelCom as Beeline network operator. The court agreed with the arguments of the defendant, represented by ALUMNI Partners, and dismissed Tinkoff Bank’s cassation appeal. This decision upholds the lower court judgements disallowing all the claims raised by the bank.

This is a landmark case for the shaping and development of the antitrust damages concept. Earlier, the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) of Russia found mobile operators in breach of the antimonopoly laws for setting monopoly high prices for mass text messaging services. Tinkoff Bank invoked this antimonopoly authority decision to bring claims for damages against VimpelCom and other mobile service providers.

One of the defender’s key arguments was that the bank had shifted its costs onto consumers.  Following a hike in mobile tariffs, Tinkoff Bank raised its commission for an SMS alert service for some of its clients. By shifting the costs onto the consumers, the Bank not only recouped them in full but also secured additional profits.

An equally important issue was whether losses were incurred for the 2019–2020 period not covered by the antimonopoly authority decision. Tinkoff Bank claimed that the breach was continuous so was in place once the FAS decision was rendered. The courts evaluated the evidence submitted and pointed out that the mobile operators’ conduct in 2019-2020 had not been found unlawful.

The ALUMNI Partners team was headed by Nikolay Voznesenskiy, Antitrust & Competition Partner, and Ivan Veselov, Dispute Resolution Partner.