Almunia said the companies sought to keep prices as high as possible before new technologies came to the market. One document seized by the Commission gave the conspiring companies clear instructions: “Producers need to avoid price competition through controlling their production capacity.”
A separate document had a warning: “Everybody is requested to keep it as secret as it would be serious damage if it is open to customers or European Commission.”
Another said: “Please dispose the following document after reading it.”
“Instead of competing with each other to innovate and provide the best product at the best price, they chose to conspire to artificially maintain returns in a declining technology market,” Almunia said. “This is why we fight cartels.”
The Commission started its probe with an antitrust raid on the companies in November 2007. Almunia said US authorities were currently investigating the case as well.