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Brussels, 3 February 2009
The European Commission can confirm that on 28-30 January 2009 Commission officials carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of companies involved in the manufacture of high voltage undersea cables. The Commission has reason to believe that the companies may have violated EC Treaty rules on restrictive business practices (Article 81), which prohibit practices such as price fixing.
Surprise inspections are a preliminary step in investigations into suspected anti-competitive practices. The fact that the European 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 European Commission respects the rights of defence, in particular the right of companies to be heard in antitrust proceedings.
There is no strict deadline to complete inquiries into anti-competitive conduct. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the undertakings concerned co-operate and the exercise of the rights of defence.