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EC investigates smart card chip firms for antitrust violations

Sends letter to firms after talks break down
Mon Apr 22 2013, 12:49
European commission

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION (EC) has sent a list of objections to firms it alleges are taking part in a smart card chip cartel.

The European Commission, which handles antitrust matters in the European Union, has told several smart card chip suppliers that it views them as being part of a cartel. The Commission said it believes that the companies might have agreed or coordinated their behaviour to artificially inflate prices.

Although the Commission didn't go into detail about the firms it is investigating, it did say that smart card chips end up in SIM cards, passports, identity cards and bank cards.

The Commission said it is open to the possibility of reaching a settlement with the companies it believes are part of the cartel, but has ceased talks due to "lack of progress", adding that the "normal antitrust procedure will now run its course".

Joaquín Almunia, commission VP in charge of competition policy said, "It is not because settlement talks fail that companies get off the hook. The essence of settlement is to benefit from a quicker, more efficient procedure, and to reach a common understanding on the existence and characteristics of a cartel.

"If that is not possible, the Commission will not hesitate to revert to the normal procedure and to pursue the suspected infringement."

The European Commission didn't name the firms it is investigating but said that it has the power to impose a fine of up to 10 percent of a company's worldwide turnover should a firm be found to be in violation of European laws against anticompetitive behaviour. µ


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