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Brussels, 17 th December 2009

Antitrust: Commission confirms sending Statement of Objections to alleged participants in bananas cartel in Southern Europe

The European Commission can confirm that in December 2009 it has sent a Statement of Objections under EU antitrust rules to a number of companies active in the import and marketing of bananas, concerning their alleged participation in a cartel in violation of the rules of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union(TFEU) on restrictive business practices (Article 101.

Surprise inspections were carried out by the Commission in Southern Europe in November 2007 (see MEMO/07/534 ).

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, 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 TFEU's antitrust rules. Sending a Statement of Objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the procedure.

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