• December 7th, 2011
  • Dafiq Hussein

After Monday’s article about the antitrust probe in China, today, we bring you another news article regarding a probe into price fixing. This time, it’s Dutch mobile operators that are under investigation.

It has been reported that the Dutch competition authority raided offices of KPN, Vodafone, and Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile in an investigation into alleged price fixing.

The competition authority, or NMA, as it’s known, has said that its investigation is focused on discovering whether mobile telecoms operators in the Netherlands took part in cartel practices that include price fixing and sharing market information.

KPN, Vodafone and T-Mobile have issued separate statements that explain that officials from the NMA visited their offices and that the companies were all fully co-operating with any investigation taking place.

Meanwhile, KPN have stated that five employees were being questioned by the NMA after their headquarters were searched on Tuesday morning.

They have also suggested that the competition authority were investigating whether there were any collaborative practices for consumer mobile telecommunications packages along with the sales channels used by KPN.

Michael Vos, a spokesman for T-Mobile, has been quoted saying: “We are co-operating fully with the authorities and we are confident of the positive outcome of the investigation.”

Furthermore, Dutch broadcaster, NOS, has reported that the investigation came as a result of two whistleblowers. These were, apparently, a former director at one of the companies being investigated, and a board member at an unnamed telecoms firm.

Ten years ago there was a similar price fixing scandal which found that the firms had indeed engaged in cartel. The outcome was that KPN was fined 7.93 million Euros, whilst T-Mobile was fined 4.6 million. Meanwhile, Vodafone were fined the least, at 3.72 million Euros.

If the companies are found guilty again, will there be harsher punishments? If so, let’s hope international calling rates are not adversely affected for those looking to make cheap international calls. That remains to be seen, and of course, as always, we will bring you any news as and when it’s announced.