If there is a way to exploit consumers, the unscrupulous will be first in line.
The European Commission has informed thirteen companies supplying optical disk drives in the European Economic Area (EEA) of its preliminary view that they may have infringed EU antitrust rules by participating in a worldwide cartel. The EC did not name exact companies accused of participating in a cartel.
The EC has concerns that those suppliers may have coordinated their behavior in bidding events organised by two major original equipment manufacturers for optical disk drives used in personal computers (desktops and notebooks) and in servers. The sending of a statement of objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the investigation, but is a formal step in commission investigations into suspected violations of EU rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices.
The commission takes the preliminary view that the companies concerned engaged for at least five years in bid rigging, which is one of the most serious breaches of EU antitrust rules. This behaviour, if established, may have ultimately affected customers that bought optical disk drives manufactured by the companies concerned.
If, after the parties have exercised their right of defence, the commission concludes that there is sufficient evidence of an infringement it can issue a decision prohibiting the conduct and impose a fine of up to 10 % of a company’s annual worldwide turnover. This is without prejudice to a company’s ability to receive full immunity for being the first to reveal information about a cartel or to receive a reduction in its fine for supplying evidence of significant added value according to the commission’s leniency notice.