On 17 December 2010, the French Competition Authority ("the
Authority") ended proceedings opened against several companies
suspected of price fixing in the liquefied petroleum gas market,
because Shell and its subsidiary Butagaz provided fabricated
evidence for the purpose of their leniency request.
After several companies had filed complaints to the Authority
about factual inconsistencies contained in some emails submitted by
Shell and Butagaz as evidence, the General Rapporteur in charge of
the case appointed a computer expert to explain these anomalies.
The expert report established that the emails had been fabricated
Consequently, the Authority declared that the remaining evidence
was insufficient to establish the alleged price fixing practice on
the ground of article L.420-1 of the French Commerce Code and
article 101 TFEU, and ended its investigations.
The Authority outlined the gravity of the disturbance of the
investigations caused by Shell and Butagaz, who violated their
obligation of genuine and full cooperation inherent to all leniency
The Authority also outlined the possible consequences of
manipulation or obstruction of investigations and underlined the
importance of a careful and thorough monitoring of leniency
For the companies submitting fabricated evidence, the risk is
twofold: (i) the Authority can fine for obstructing investigations,
up to an amount of 1% of their worldwide turnover and/or (ii) the
President of the Authority can decide to bring an action before the
To view Community Week, Issue 503; 7th January 2011
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