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Brussels, 28 September 2012
Antitrust: Commission confirms inspections in lead recycling sector
The European Commission can confirm that on 26 September 2012 Commission officials carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of several purchasers of scrap batteries and other lead scrap for the production of recycled lead. Inspections took place in several Member States. The Commission has reasons to believe that the companies concerned may have violated Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which prohibits cartels and restrictive business practices.
The Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the national competition authorities.
Unannounced inspections are a preliminary step in investigations into suspected cartels. 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 antitrust proceedings.
There is no legal deadline to complete cartel inquiries. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the companies concerned co-operate and the exercise of the rights of defence.