French wines and spirits the subject of an ongoing anti-competitive investigation

Monday April 22 2019 by Vitisphere

Known as OVS, the Competition Authority's visits and seizure operations are run from the Rue de l'Échelle in Paris.Known as OVS, the Competition Authority's visits and seizure operations are run from the Rue de l'Échelle in Paris. - Photo credit : DR

On April 9, the French Competition Authority conducted “unannounced visits and seizures in the wine and spirits sector”, according to a terse press release issued by the administration. Authorised by a judge of freedoms, the operations were conducted simultaneously “on companies suspected of using anti-competitive practices in the wine and spirits industry”, pointed out the authorities, stressing that “these operations obviously do not prejudge the guilt of the companies concerned by the alleged practices”. In accordance with the principles of presumption of innocence and confidentiality of the investigation, the administration is refraining from making any additional comments “on the identity of the companies visited” and “on the practices involved”. Published for procedural purposes (to inform the industry and encourage witness statements), the minimalist press release has most certainly set the cat amongst the pigeons and raised serious questions within the industry.

Marie Brizard searched

Only the Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits group broke the silence by indicating, again in a terse press release, that it was one of the companies visited, that it had “provided all the information available” and that it “would help the Competition Authority's investigation services in providing all the additional information that would be requested”. While Marie Brizard stresses “its commitment to strict compliance with applicable regulations", the group does not wish to provide any further details.

 

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