The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) has reported an incident to the police. During a search of company premises in the healthcare sector, it became apparent that seals affixed to a door by NMa officials on the previous night had been broken. As part of a formal investigation into possible infringements of the Competition Act, the NMa may seal off a room for further inspection if so required.
The NMa considers the breaking of the seals to be a serious incident. “We seal premises in order to resume our search for evidence on the following day. If seals are broken, this may very well have been done on purpose in order to remove evidence that is relevant to our investigation. What is more, the room concerned had been appointed to NMa officials as a private working space. As part of the company search, documents had been gathered there for further inspection”, comments René Jansen, Member of the Board of the NMa.
Under current legislation, the police will further investigate the breaking of the seals. This situation will change as of 1 October 2007 on the enactment of the amended Competition Act, authorising the NMa to impose fines for breaking into sealed rooms. The maximum fine for this infringement amounts to €450,000 or 1 per cent of the company’s turnover. As such, the NMa will have a deterrent instrument at its disposal in case an investigation is being thwarted. At this stage, the NMa has not named the company concerned as its investigation is still ongoing.
Source: Press Release NMa, 01-08-2007 at www.nmanet.nl