Anti-cartel raids in Belgian gas market

18th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

18 May 2006, BRUSSELS — European anti-cartel police have searched the offices of both Fluxys and Distrigas in Belgium in a large-scale operation against monopolist gas and electricity markets.

18 May 2006

BRUSSELS — European anti-cartel police have searched the offices of both Fluxys and Distrigas in Belgium in a large-scale operation against monopolist gas and electricity markets.

In total, police raids were carried out in five EU states on suspicions of illegal cartel formations and the co-operative division of markets, newspaper 'De Tijd' reported on Thursday.

Companies are also accused of using their dominant position to restrict access to basic infrastructure, pipelines and storage capacity.

Besides the Belgian companies, E.ON in Germany and Gaz de France in France were raided as part of a co-ordinated action. Raids were also carried out in Italy and Austria.

The police operation was not unexpected, however, as EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said a couple of months ago that competition in European energy markets had to be improved.

The EU is concerned that energy markets remain dominated by old national monopolies and has accused firms of illegal protectionism.

Companies could be fined 10 percent of their turnover over the past 12 months if convicted of corruption. In practice, the fines usually amount to 2 or 3 percent.

Fluxys manages Belgium's gas network, while Distrigas is the nation's largest gas supplier.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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