The Commission can confirm that it has recently sent a Statement of Objections to a number of undertakings regarding their alleged role in cartel arrangements for shipping liquids in bulk on deep sea routes.

The Statement of Objections alleges that the undertakings concerned were involved in customer allocation, bid-rigging, price-fixing and the exchange of confidential market information concerning the maritime transport of bulk liquids on deep sea routes, thereby restricting competition in the EU market in violation of EC Treaty rules outlawing restrictive business practices (Article 81 EC Treaty and Article 53 of the EEA Agreement).

The preliminary conclusions outlined in the Statement of Objections are based on information gathered during unannounced inspections by the Commission carried out on 19th and 20th February 2003, information supplied afterwards under the Commission's Leniency Notice or resulting from the Commission's subsequent investigation