The European Commission has confirmed that it carried out unannounced inspections on 24 and 25 March 2009 at the premises of companies active in the North Sea shrimp industry. The Commission conducted these dawn raids as part of a preliminary investigation into whether certain companies in this sector may have participated in a cartel, contrary to Article 81 of the EC Treaty. Surprise inspections by the Commission typically come early in an investigation into anticompetitive conduct and the Commission is under no strict deadline to complete its investigation.
Companies in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands were reportedly inspected, but their identities have not been disclosed. Dutch shrimp producer Heiploeg BV has, however, acknowledged that its facilities in Denmark and the Netherlands were raided.
This is not the first investigation into anticompetitive conduct in this industry in recent years. In 2003, the Dutch competition authority fined certain Dutch shrimp traders, as well as Danish, Dutch and German shrimp producers EUR 13.8 million for price fixing. Heiploeg BV was among the companies fined in that case.