The European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections (SO) to six companies alleging their participation in a cartel for the sale of bananas. The Commission suspects that market leaders such as Chiquita, Del Monte and Dole of the United States, Noboa of Ecuador and Fyffes of Ireland shared confidential information about volume and prices of imported bananas in order to fix prices. The SO follows surprise inspections that the Commission carried out in 2005 at banana importers in Belgium, Great Britain, Germany and Ireland. The companies have ten weeks to reply to the SO and will then have the right to be heard in an oral hearing.