Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Archive for December 7th, 2009

Dawn Raid Leaked?

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Leaving aside energy law freaks, the news that the Commission and the Czech Competition Authority raided on 26 November the premises of ČEZ, the Czech energy incumbent, as well as two other related companies, might have passed relatively unnoticed.

This news comes, however, with a very unusual, and most unfortunate, development. The Commission’s purported dawn raid had apparently been leaked to the press and the concerned undertakings a few days before its occurence. The Prague Post reports:

Czech news server posted a story telling of the raid on ČEZ 19 hours in advance. “The European Commission intends to initiate proceedings that will verify the behavior of operators in the Czech energy market,” the story read

The Prague Post gives further information on the circumstances surrounding the leak (and seems to surmise that it might originate from the Czech Competition Authority itself):

According to a Dec. 1 report in the daily Lidové noviny, Brussels told the ÚOHS [Czech Competition Authority] of its intention four to five days in advance, said director Petr Rafaj. The newspaper quoted an unnamed source at ČEZ as saying the paper shredders were running “at full speed” at ČEZ and EPH offices before the EC arrived. The companies denied the allegation“.

Since then, the Commission has acknowledged that the raid had not happened in full secrecy, and will inquire on the issue:

Todd [the Commission’s spokesman] confirmed the EC’s unannounced raid had indeed been leaked to the media.”Yes, we know about the leak,” he said. “We are going to have to investigate it.”

In terms of legal implications, the source, if found, will likely to face tough disciplinary sanctions. Complainants might also file complaints for maladministration and the like. Thanks to my assistant, Norman, for the pointer.

(Image possibly subject to copyrights: source here)

Written by Nicolas Petit

7 December 2009 at 5:32 am