French regulator says Shell unit falsified documents

20th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

The French competition authority on Monday accused Shell and its subsidiary Butagaz of having produced false documents in connection with an inquiry into alleged price fixing by gas distributors.

The authority recalled that in 2005 Shell and Butagaz, in a bid to escape heavy sanctions by providing information to investigators, had denounced "potentially anti-competitive practices" by gas distributors.

To support the contention, Butagaz produced internal e-mail messages that the authority said Monday had been altered or fabricated.

The authority could decide to impose a fine on Shell and Butagaz of up to one percent of global sales or could refer the matter to the state prosecutor's office, an authority spokesman said.

A Shell spokeswoman insisted that "all documents had been transmitted in total good faith."

The pricing probe into four distributors, Butagaz, Antargaz, Primagaz and Totalgaz, was eventually dropped for lack of proof.

© 2010 AFP

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