Source AP ©

European Union tracks down exotic fruit cartel

European Union discovered several exotic fruit companies suspected of running a cartel to fix prices.

It did not name the fruit producers and importers or say where they are based, but said it had reason to believe that the companies had broken EU law.

Raids are the first step in cartel investigations, which may see companies charged with antitrust abuse and eventually fined up to 10 percent of global turnover.

In July, banana importers Fyffes PLC, Dole Food Co. Inc. and Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. said they had received an EU charge sheet accusing them of running an illegal cartel to fix prices and control the supply of the fruit to northern Europe.

Chiquita triggered the investigation by coming forward with information that saw it win conditional immunity from fines. It said it had discovered two years ago that some employees had shared pricing and volume information for Europe, where it has half of its global banana sales.

Fyffes said it was not raided. Chiquita and Fresh Del Monte did not immediately return calls.