The Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) has decided to prosecute Philip Morris Benelux, Établissements L. Lacroix Fils, JT International Company Netherlands and British American Tobacco Belgium for the exchange of information on prices between competitors.
Together, the accused parties account for 90 percent of cigarette consumption in Belgium. The competition prosecutor alleges the existence of anticompetitive practices that lasted for several years and consisted of repeated exchanges of information on their future prices through wholesalers.
According to a BCA press release, the manufacturers sent information on their own future prices to their wholesalers and, through the wholesalers, received information on the future prices of their competitors.
Such conduct may be contrary to Article IV.1 CEL and Article 101 TFEU, according to the BCA.
This case will now be examined by the Competition College. The defendants will have an opportunity to defend themselves against these objections in front of the college. The parties will be able to submit written comments to the Competition College and will be heard at a hearing.