European competition regulators have told a number of smart card chipmakers – found in everything from Sim cards to bank cards – they are suspected breaching antitrust rules by forming a cartel.
The European Commission admitted in 2009 that it had begun investigations, but had initially agreed to explore a possible settlements with the firms involved. Those peace talks have been scotched over what the EC described as a “lack of progress”.
“The essence of settlement is to benefit from a quicker, more efficient procedure, and to reach a common understanding on the existence and characteristics of a cartel,” said competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia.
“If that is not possible, the Commission will not hesitate to revert to the normal procedure and to pursue the suspected infringement.”
In 2008, EC officials raided a number of smart card chip makers, including Infineon, NXP Semiconducters, STMicroelectronics, Renesas Technology.
The EC has now sent those firms a letter of objections, outlining its concerns. If found guilty of forming a cartel, the firms could be fined up to 10 percent of global annual turnover.
V3 has reached out to those firms involved in the earlier raids, but had not received comment at the time of publication.
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