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Antitrust: Commission confirms sending Statement of Objections to alleged participants in freight forwarding cartel

Commission Européenne - IP/10/149   10/02/2010

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IP/10/149

Brussels, 10 th February 2010

Antitrust: Commission confirms sending Statement of Objections to alleged participants in freight forwarding cartel

The European Commission has sent in February 2010 a Statement of Objections to a number of companies concerning their alleged participation in price-fixing cartels in the air freight forwarding business in violation of the EU antitrust rules (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – TFEU - and Article 53 of the Agreement on the European Economic Area). Freight forwarding consists of organizing the transport of goods along with related activities such as customs clearance, warehousing and ground services.

The freight forwarding business has been segmented into domestic and international freight forwarding and freight forwarding by air, land and sea. The case concerns only the provision of freight forwarding services by air.

Surprise inspections were carried out by the Commission in October 2007 at the premises of various providers of international freight forwarding services (see MEMO/07/406 ).

The Commission is investigating allegations that these companies fixed prices by colluding on the imposition, level, timing and application of various surcharges, in breach of Article 101 of the TFEU. The allegations concern four separate infringements involving the provision of freight forwarding services from the UK to outside the EEA, from the EEA to the US, from China to the EEA and from Southern China/Hong Kong to the EEA.

Procedural background

A Statement of Objections is a formal step in Commission antitrust investigations in which the Commission informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them. The addressee of a Statement of Objections can reply in writing to the Statement of Objections, setting out all facts known to it which are relevant to its defence against the objections raised by the Commission. The party may also request an oral hearing to present its comments on the case.

The Commission may then take a decision on whether the conduct addressed in the Statement of Objections is compatible or not with the EU antitrust rules. Sending a Statement of Objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the procedure.


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