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EU investigates global optical disc drive cartel

The European Commission has announced that it is investigating 13 optical disc drive manufacturers over allegations they participated in a worldwide cartel.

The commission did not reveal the names of the companies involved, but said in a statement that it suspects the firms of coordinating on the supply of optical disc drives used in PCs and servers, which violates EU antitrust laws. The effort was spearheaded by two major disc drive OEMs, the commission said.

"The Commission takes the preliminary view that the companies concerned engaged for at least five years in bid rigging, which is one of the most serious breaches of EU antitrust rules," the agency said in a statement.

If true, the scheme likely had an effect on the price of the drives that were purchased by consumers.

Specifically, the commission has issued a statement of objections. The companies in question can now view the evidence the commission has collected, respond in writing, and request an oral hearing to present their sides of the story.

If found guilty, the companies could be fined up to 10 per cent of their annual worldwide turnover. Companies that help with the investigation and provide details about the cartel could end up with a smaller fine, the commission said.