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Greek industrialist lashes out at charges of price fixing

Greek industrialist lashes out at charges of price fixing

The head of Greece's powerful industrialists' union lashed out Wednesday at a "climate of exaggeration and inaccuracies" over allegations of price fixing by big business that have dominated Greek public debate in recent weeks.
"There is the impression that cartels have been uncovered everywhere, including in the most competitive sectors of the economy," Dimitris Daskalopoulos, president of the Federation of Greek Industries, told a news conference.
His comments coincide with a three-day visit to Athens by European Union Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes, and come hard on the heels of a scandal involving the head of Greece's competition authority.
Last month the general manager of the Greek Competition Commission, Panagiotis Adamopoulos, was taken into pretrial custody on charges that he solicited a euro2.5 million (US$3.18 million) bribe from a dairy company under investigation by his agency for colluding to fix prices with competitors.
He allegedly threatened dairy firm Mevgal with a fine of euro25 million (US$31.8 million) unless it paid the bribe.
Daskalopoulos, who is also president of Vivartia SA, Greece's largest food company and the market leader in dairy products, has consistently dismissed allegations of dairy price fixing.
The visit by Kroes, however, has fueled speculation that she wants a first-hand look at the alleged irregularities surrounding the Greek competition authority.
According to polls, there is a widespread perception that Greek companies operate price-fixing cartels in a country with persisting inflation worries. In August consumer prices rose 3.5 percent from a year earlier, more than a percentage point higher than the euro zone average.
Two years ago, Greek prosecutors uncovered instances of price fixing among supermarkets, while high prices for gasoline and boat tickets in the recently liberalized ferry market have compounded concerns.
Last month, a European Central Bank report showed that Greek banks enjoy an unusually large margin on consumer interest rates.
"That cartels exist is certain, Greek competition authorities have handed down many fines in the past few years," said Daskalopoulos.
"But there are very specific laws on what constitutes a cartel. It is not for me to say ... It is something that the competition commission must investigate and judge," he added.
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Alkman Granitsas is a correspondent of Dow Jones Newswires.


Updated : 2021-07-28 03:54 GMT+08:00