Final report of the Hearing Officer in case COMP/38.069 — Copper plumbing tubes (pursuant to Article 15 of Commission Decision 2001/462/EC, ECSC of 23 May 2001 on the terms of reference of Hearing Officers in certain competition proceedings — OJ L 162, 19.6.2001, p. 21 )
OJ C 162, 13.7.2006, p. 17–17 (ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, EN, FR, IT, LV, LT, HU, NL, PL, PT, SK, SL, FI, SV)
CS DA DE EL EN ES ET FI FR HU IT LT LV NL PL PT SK SL SV
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Final report of the Hearing Officer in case COMP/38.069 — Copper plumbing tubes
(pursuant to Article 15 of Commission Decision 2001/462/EC, ECSC of 23 May 2001 on the terms of reference of Hearing Officers in certain competition proceedings — OJ L 162, 19.6.2001, p. 21)
The draft decision in this case gives rise to the following observations:
The Commission began proceedings in January 2001 when Mueller Industries Inc. provided information about the existence of a cartel in the copper tube market. The Commission carried out several inspections according to Article 14 of Regulation 17.
On 29 August 2003 the Commission adopted a Statement of Objections against twenty two parties. Access to the file was granted by means of two CD ROMs and an additional one with all documents except business secrets, confidential information and internal documents. The addressees were given eight weeks to reply to the Statement of Objections. The deadline to reply was extended taking account in particular that an additional CD-Rom had been sent out to the addressees.
All addressees replied within the time allowed. With exception of HME, they all requested an oral hearing pursuant to Article 5 of Commission Regulation (EC) No 2842/98 which took place on 28 November 2003. The facts of the cartel set out in the SO were not challenged by any parties with the exception of the Dutch company HME which did not attend the hearing and did not comment on the infringements.
In the light of the explanations supplied in the written reply to the Statement of Objections and at the hearing, it was decided not to continue the proceedings against Societá Metallurgica Italiana Spa, the Italian holding company of the KME-group, because not enough evidence had been found in its involvement in the infringements. Its role was limited to the acquisition of shareholdings and financial activities.
I consider that the right to be heard of the parties has been respected in this case. The draft decision only deals with arguments mentioned in the statement of objections.
Brussels, 12 July 2004