The European Union has made it clear that it has not dropped its anti-trust investigation into allegations of price fixing by Norwegian salmon farmers.
A similar inquiry is also active in the United States and the EU indicated its determination during a recent brief filed in the US District Court in southern Florida. The European Commission argued that a class action suit filed on behalf of US purchasers of Norwegian salmon in 2019 was interfering with its own investigation.
Two years ago, when the UK was still a member of the EU, European Commission officials raided the Scottish offices of Norwegian-owned producers, including a number of top industry names. Scotland was the focus of the raid at the time because Norway is not in the EU and the Commission’s powers there are very limited.
News of the investigation sent salmon shares into a brief downward spin on the Oslo Stock Exchange at the time.
The companies all strenuously deny price fixing and have vowed to fight any attempts to sue them.
The US lawsuit accuses Mowi, SalMar, Lerøy Seafood, Grieg Seafood, and Cermaq Group of exchanging competitively sensitive information among themselves, with the aim of artificially controlling the price of farm-raised salmon sold in the United States.
The European Commission said in its latest brief: “The Commission seeks to prevent the discovery of investigatory materials whose continued nondisclosure is critical to the ability of the European Union as a sovereign to investigate and deter unlawful cartel activities.”
Olivier Guersent, the EU’s competition director general is trying to overturn the US court’s decision that access to the documents must be provided for the plaintiffs.
It is reported that the documents, bound by a protective order, run into hundreds of thousands of pages and plaintiffs’ counsel have only just started to review them.
The Commission also adds: “The Commission seeks to prevent the discovery of investigatory materials whose continued nondisclosure is critical to the ability of the European Union as a sovereign to investigate and deter unlawful cartel activities.