EU: Regs race to fine SIM card chip price-fixer

The European Commission is racing to meet deadline to fine a maker of smart card chips accused of fixing prices, according to unnamed sources.

Two sources said the Commission is looking to fine Royal Philips, based in the Netherlands, for price manipulation before the 10 year statute of limitations runs out, which applies for antitrust penalties. The Commission has until September 9 to decide whether to issue fines.

Philips has attempted to delay the decision past its deadline by arguing that the Commission’s case has gaps and its evidence should be reviewed; according to one source, the Commission is now looking to address those concerns and fine the company before the statute of limitations expires.

Another source said the Commission could fine Philips by the end of July.

Samsung Electronics, Infineon Technologies and Renesas Technology are also suspected of running a cartel to manipulate smart card chip prices, reports say; while Renesas first alerted authorities of the collusion and therefore qualified for leniency, reports say Samsung and Infineon received a statement of objections last year after settlement talks with authorities fell apart.

The Commission announced in 2009 it conducted dawn raids of the companies’ offices in part of the investigation, which probed prices for chips made for SIM cards, bank cards and identity cards, according to reports.

Full content: Businessweek

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