EC criticized for conduct during Intel investigation


Ombudsman is just an American way of fighting back. If no mediator was in place, Intel would go to the media and so on. Europe does much better in some ways than US and one is corporations do not own the society. They actually have people living there. Large corporations own, or act as if they own, everything in US. The people are just here and have a bunch of rights and privileges as promoted by media not to be challenged but basically those who live in America are here to lose so the corporate America wins. Intel should be fined again and American corporations should be fought tooth and nail. They are downright EVIL disguised as business operations.

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Did the European Commission overlook some evidence during its antitrust investigation of Intel that might have influenced the outcome of the decision, which went against the chipmaker? The European Union ombudsman believes that may have been the case, saying that EC investigators failed to include details of a meeting that presented one PC mantufacturer’s decision to choose Intel CPUs as being purely performance based.

A copy of a yet-to-be-released report by the EU ombudsman was seen by the Wall Street Journal(subscription). It describes how an unidentified Dell executive told EC investigators in 2006 that AMD CPUs were problematic due to “very poor” performance. There’s no way to know for sure what the exec said, however, because the EC didn’t keep a written record of the conversation. And when Intel asked the Commission for a record of the interview, the EC denied that it ever took place and said there were no records of the meeting.

In May of this year, Intel was slammed with a €1 billion fine—the largest ever dished out by the EU—for antitrust law violations. The Commission found that the CPU giant engaged in a number of anticompetitive behaviors intended to steer OEMs and retailers toward Intel CPUs. This included paying one OEM to hold off on releasing new AMD-powered business PCs and block sales of them to their enterprise customers. Some of the rebates offered by Intel to OEMs were also found to be unreasonable, including one offered to a manufacturer that hinged on its keeping its lineup less than 20 percent AMD.

Given the size and scope of the fine, it wasn’t surprising that Intel appealed it to the EU Court of First Instance. What was surprising was one of grounds for the appeal: that the fine violated its human rights. Intel argued that such fines should only be issued as the result of criminal investigations, not from administrative proceedings like those of the EC. The chipmaker—and other companies dinged by the EC for antitrust violations—feels that the purely administrative nature of the investigation doesn’t provide an adequate venue for it to defend itself, and a court proceeding would have been more appropriate.

The ombudsman’s report is unlikely to get Intel off the hook, given the other evidence in the case. What it does do is raise doubt about the impartiality and transparency of the EC’s investigators—and that may be enough for Intel to get the size of the fine reduced once the Court of First Instance rules some time in 2010.

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