Brewers accused of price rip-off
2 September 2005, AMSTERDAM — Beer drinkers have been paying too much for years because of pricing agreements between the four biggest brewers in the Netherlands, the European Commission's cartel investigation division said on Friday.
2 September 2005
AMSTERDAM — Beer drinkers have been paying too much for years because of pricing agreements between the four biggest brewers in the Netherlands, the European Commission's cartel investigation division said on Friday.
The European Commission has given Heineken, Grolsch, Bavaria and the Dutch arm of Belgian company Interbrew two months to respond to the allegation. Dommelsch and Hertog Jan are labels owned by Interbrew.
Companies found guilty of breaching the European Union's anti-cartel laws face fines running into millions of euros.
A spokesperson for Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said on Friday that her office had evidence showing the companies agreed prices and discussed individual clients and exchanged important commercial information.
The breaches of competition rules are said to have taken place from 1996 to 1999 and influenced the prices charged in supermarkets and in cafes for beer.
The European Commission's investigation into the allegations has been ongoing for years. Officials of the Dutch competition authority carried out raids at four brewers five years ago at the request of the EC.
Spokespeople for Grolsch and Interbrew Nederland declined on Friday to comment on the allegations.
Executive Johannes van der Veen of Bavaria expressed "great surprise" and added "after five and a half years we thought that the Commission had dropped the investigation".
Van der Veen said he would not discuss the allegation in detail as he had to study the file first.
The European Commission suspects that brewers in Belgium, France, Italy and Luxembourg also set up illegal cartels to fix beer prices.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]
Subject: Dutch News