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European compressor firms in cartel swoop

Makers of refrigeration compressors have been raided by investigators looking at anti-competitive practices.

The news, which sent shockwaves through the rac industry worldwide, emerged after surprise inspections of compressor producers in Europe and the Americas saw various materials seized from offices.

According to reports, initial investigations began last year after one of the companies involved advised authorities of a cartel in exchange for administrative and criminal immunity. Police found sufficient evidence of exchange of information to trigger an investigation across global markets

The United States Justice Department announced it had opened an antitrust investigation as part of a probe of possible price fixing and other anticompetitive practices.

The companies raided, including Danfoss, Embraco, Panasonic, Tecumseh, and Whirlpool, have all issued statements denying any wrongdoing, while cooperating with investigators. Danfoss said that raids took place at offices in Denmark, Germany and the US on February 17.

If firms are found guilty they face multi-million pound fines, since EU law can levy fines of up to 10 per cent of annual turnover.

Danfoss’s chief reputation officer, Ole Daugbjerg said “We are 100 per cent certain that the top management of Danfoss is completely unaware of any possible entrance into such an agreement.” He added that Danfoss would be “very surprised”, if the competition authorities showed collusion by the company or individuals.