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Brussels, 31st March 2009
The European Commission can confirm that on the 24th and 25th of March 2009 Commission officials carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of companies active in the North Sea shrimps and related products industry in several Member States. The Commission has reason to believe that the companies concerned may have violated EC Treaty antitrust rules that prohibit cartels (Article 81).
The Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities.
Surprise inspections are a preliminary step into suspected anticompetitive practices. The fact that the Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself. The Commission respects the rights of defence, in particular the right of companies to be heard in the Commission’s proceedings against them.
There is no strict deadline to complete inquiries into anticompetitive conduct. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the undertakings concerned co-operate with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.