Friday, 11 July 2008

EU raids firms in investigation of agriculture industry

Cargill, the largest U.S. agriculture company, and grain traders in two countries were raided by European Union authorities as part of an antitrust probe into alleged price-fixing.
European and Italian antitrust officials conducted unannounced visits at Cargill offices in Italy, said Francis DeRosa, a spokesman for Cargill in Cobham, England. The European Commission, the EU's antitrust regulator, carried out inspections in two countries, the agency said in a statement.
"We have provided and will continue to provide full cooperation," DeRosa said.
Commodity prices have advanced for six consecutive years, with wheat, corn, rice and other foods reaching records this year. World food imports will cost a record $1.04 trillion this year, $215 billion more than last year, the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization says.
Companies can be fined as much as 10 percent of annual sales for antitrust violations. Decisions can be appealed to European courts in Luxembourg.

The inspections were made at the premises of traders and distributors of products for human consumption and animal feed, the EU said.

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