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Superintendencia de Competencia
Competencia

De la potestad de requerir información

“Las facultades de investigación que se otorgan a la Superintendencia de Competencia son amplias y le autorizan a requerir (…) toda la documentación e información que considere necesaria para promover, proteger y garantizar la competencia en El Salvador”.

Sentencia de 29 oct. 2009, ref. 15-2009

Por: Gerson A. Palacios*.

En El Salvador, la institución encargada de velar por la libre competencia en el mercado es la Superintendencia de Competencia. Para lograr tal finalidad, la Ley de Competencia le proporciona potestades de la más variada naturaleza. Entre esas se encuentra la de requerir información que en muchos artículos de la Ley y Reglamento se mencionan.

En virtud de la potestad antes mencionada, la autoridad de competencia puede solicitar la información que sea necesaria para cumplir la obligación que le da la Ley. Por ejemplo, por el artículo cincuenta del referido cuerpo normativo, se tiene la facultad para ordenar información de todos los organismos gubernamentales y demás autoridades en general, así como de cualquier persona, sea persona natural o persona jurídica de sustrato colectivo.

La Sala de lo Contencioso-Administrativo también se ha pronunciado sobre el tema del requerimiento de información. En la sentencia de fecha 29 oct. 2009, referencia 15-2009: “el artículo 50 de la LC establece que todos los organismos gubernamentales y demás autoridades en general, así como cualquier persona están en la obligación de dar el apoyo y colaboración necesaria a la Superintendencia, proporcionando toda clase de información y documentación requerida en la investigación por violación a los preceptos de la LC. (…) La anterior obligación implica no sólo el cumplimiento del requerimiento de la Superintendencia de Competencia —quien es capaz de valorar la conveniencia o no de cierta información o documentación para el objeto de la investigación— en cuanto a la forma o el contenido señalado, sino, también, en cuanto al plazo concedido”.

Tal extracto de la sentencia trae consigo tres ideas importantes en el tema en cuestión. La primera es la ya referida anteriormente, a saber: el requerimiento de información que hace el ente contralor a los diferentes agentes económicos y organismos gubernamentales por la potestad que le otorga la Ley de Competencia. La segunda idea refiere una carga legal para el requerido, la obligación de facilitar a la Superintendencia la obligación que le ordena.

En cuanto a esta obligación, la Ley de Competencia estipula una sanción para el incumplimiento de brindar la información. La penalización está ligada con la tercera idea, que corresponde a la forma y contenido de la información y también al plazo de entrega -cabe decir que la autoridad de competencia indica a los agentes económicos qué información está requiriendo, es decir, especifica detalladamente la documentación que necesita y además detalla la manera en que la información debe ser entregada, sea por medios magnéticos de almacenamiento, en papel, etc.-; la sanción la contempla el artículo treinta y ocho, inciso sexto, que literalmente dice: “La Superintendencia podrá también imponer multa de hasta diez salarios mínimos mensuales urbanos en la industria por cada día de atraso a las personas que deliberadamente o por negligencia no suministren la colaboración requerida o que haciéndolo lo hagan de manera incompleta o inexacta; (…)”.

Toda sanción administrativa tiene una finalidad intra, para el caso, el objetivo que persigue la Superintendencia sancionando por la falta de colaboración es garantizar el bien tutelado, a saber: la competencia. Esto dado que sin la información que se requiere de los agentes económicos sería una prolija tarea proteger y garantizar la libre y sana competencia en el mercado, es decir que sin la información de los agentes económicos sería ineficiente la actividad de la autoridad de competencia.

Es de suma importancia también traer a colación el tipo de información que puede requerir la Superintendencia de Competencia en el ejercicio de sus facultades. Resulta evidente que es posible y lógico requerir información que los agentes económicos consideran pública; pero el tema se pone espinoso para los requeridos cuando se trata de información que clasifican, personalmente, como reservada o confidencial. Es prudente acotar aquí que los agentes económicos piden que se declare como confidencial parte o toda la información que brindan y eso es tomado en cuenta por la autoridad de competencia, sin embargo, es la Superintendencia la que clasifica, previo análisis pormenorizado y exhaustivo, qué información es confidencial.

La Sala de lo Contencioso-Administrativo ha establecido en la sentencia de fecha 29 oct. 2009, referencia 15-2009: “Dada la naturaleza de la actividad que realiza la Superintendencia de Competencia, es innegable que entre la información que se necesita para cumplir sus objetivos es factible que exista información reservada, relativa a los negocios y actividades comerciales de los agentes económicos involucrados”. En tal sentencia la Sala le da a la autoridad de competencia la pauta para solicitar la información reservada, no con un fin arbitrario, sino con el objetivo de garantizar la competencia en el mercado, dado que le facilita la actividad que realiza en pro de la competencia.

Dicho así resulta preocupante la violación a garantías y afectación patrimonial que puedan surgir si la información clasificada como confidencial se publica o se proporciona a las partes involucradas como parte del expediente. Pero tales violaciones o afectaciones patrimoniales no surgen, dado que la Ley de Competencia y su Reglamento regulan diligentemente el tratamiento de la información que se clasifica como confidencial en el artículo cuarenta y nueve, inciso final: “La información declarada como confidencial deberá conservarse en legajo separado y a éste sólo tendrán acceso los Directores, el Superintendente y los funcionarios y empleados asignados al procedimiento”. No todos tienen acceso a la información clasificada como confidencial, ni siquiera los mismos empleados que no estén asignados al caso. Asimismo la Ley le impone el deber al Superintendente de resguardar la confidencialidad de la información en el artículo trece, literal f) que dice: “Proteger la confidencialidad de la información empresarial, comercial u oficial contenida en el archivo de la Superintendencia;”. Finalmente, la Sala de lo Contencioso-Administrativo en la sentencia de fecha 01 ene. 2011, referencia 259-2007 ha dicho lo siguiente: “La Superintendencia de Competencia está facultada a solicitar la colaboración de los agentes económicos, quienes no se pueden escudar en la confidencialidad de la información para no proporcionarla, pues el ente regulador está obligado a resguardar dicha confidencialidad”.

            Para concluir el tema, es necesario decir que la Superintendencia de Competencia para proteger el bien que se le ha ordenado tutelar, necesita de la información que los agentes económicos proporcionan; siempre a favor de proteger la competencia y consecuentemente al consumidor. El eslogan de la autoridad de competencia: “La competencia nos beneficia a todos” no es un mero dicho, sino una realidad que coadyuva al buen funcionamiento de los agentes económicos en el mercado a fin de beneficiar, consecuentemente, a los consumidores, agentes económicos, etc., a todo el mercado.

– Los comentarios en este artículo expresan la opinión del autor –

 

* El autor es estudiante de Ciencias Jurídicas. Fungió como pasante jurídico en la Intendencia de Investigaciones de la Superintendencia de Competencia.

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