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Siemens, Toshiba Lose EU Court Appeal Over Czech Antitrust Fines

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Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Siemens AG, Toshiba Corp., Hitachi Ltd. are among electric-equipment makers that lost a European Court challenge to overturn more than 900 million koruna ($47 million) in Czech antitrust fines.

The EU Court of Justice ruled that the Czech antitrust regulator was right to fine at least 10 companies a record 979 million koruna in 2007, a month after the EU authority had levied a 750.7 million-euro penalty ($988 million) on them for colluding on prices of electric equipment. The companies, also including Areva SA and Alstom SA, challenged the legality of the Czech fine, which was later cut to 942 million koruna.

A Czech regional court in 2008 overturned the national penalty, ruling that the companies couldn’t be fined twice, once by the European Commission and once by Czech regulator. On appeal by the Czech antitrust watchdog, a high court in 2009 annulled that ruling and said the regional court had to re-examine the case.

The regional court referred the case to the EU tribunal questioning whether EU or Czech law applied for the period during which the cartel took place in the Czech Republic before the country became part of the 27-nation bloc in May 2004.

The case is: C-17/10, Toshiba Corporation, Areva, Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Alstom, Fuji Electric, VA TECH Transmission & Distribution GmbH & Co. KEG, Siemens AG, Hitachi Ltd, Japan AE Power Systems Corp., Nuova Magrini Galileo SpA v. Urad pro ochranu hospodarske souteze.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aoife White in Brussels at awhite62@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.

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