European shipping companies investigated for anti-competitive practices

Brussells, EU:  AP Moller-Maersk was one of several companies to receive unannounced visits on Tuesday by European anti-trust officials over allegations of anticompetitive behaviour, reports the Copenhagen Post.

In a statement, the regulators stated they had “reason to believe” that the European Union’s cartel or monopoly abuse rules, had been breached.

None of the companies involved were formally named, but in an e-mail to Berlingske newspaper, Christian Kledal, the head of Maersk’s legal group, acknowledged the company’s involvement in the investigation.

“As is expected in these sorts of investigations, the commission’s employees are visiting Maersk Line including the executive management, where they are examining PCs and reading and collecting documents they find relevant such as the minutes from meetings,” he wrote.

European shipping firms CMA CGM and Hapag-Lloyd acknowledged they had also been raided.

According to Bussiness.dk, the raid began on Tuesday when police officers presented a warrant to raid the offices as part of an investigation into the company’s involvement in breaches of European competition law.

Maersk points out, however, that the raid does not mean the company is guilty of any contravening any law.  “Just because the commission making an inspection, does not mean that Maersk Line is involved in anticompetitive behaviour or that the conclusion of the investigation is already known. It is therefore too early to speculate the conclusion of the investigation, such as a possible fine,” Kledal wrote to Business.dk.

In 2001 Maersk and SAS were fined 100m kroner and 300m kroner respectively for violating competition law through collusion on their air freight businesses.

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