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Brussels, 3 February 2010

Antitrust: Commission confirms inspections in electrical equipment industry

The European Commission can confirm that on 20 January 2010 Commission officials carried out targeted inspections at the premises of producers of Flexible Alternating Current Transmission Systems (FACTS). This equipment is used to increase the power transfer capability of electricity transmission networks. The Commission has reason to believe that the companies concerned may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).

During such inspections, t he Commission officials are accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities. Surprise inspections are a preliminary step in investigations into suspected cartels. 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 cartel inquiries. 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.

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