U.K.'s Tesco appeals £10.4M fine over alleged price-fixing of cheese, says dairy producers pushed for higher prices

LOS ANGELES , October 20, 2011 () – Tesco Plc appealed a £10.4 million (US$16.3 million) fine by the U.K. Office of Fair Trading (OFT) over the supermarket chain's alleged involvement in price-fixing violations between dairy producers and other retailers in 2002 and 2003, Bloomberg reported Oct. 20.

OFT spokesperson Kasia Reardon said in a statement Thursday that seven other parties have admitted their involvement, are paying their fines and not appealing.

Those include other retailers such as J Sainsbury Plc and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s Asda supermarkets, Bloomberg reported.

OFT erred in finding Tesco took part in a conspiracy to fix prices of cheese products, said an Oct. 17 posting on the case on the website of the Competition Appeal Tribune. Tesco said the purported violations came after British dairy farmers lobbied for higher prices for cheese products.

OFT reduced the total fines in the case for the second time in August to £49.5 million after other companies cooperated in the investigation, but the penalties against Tesco were not reduced, Bloomberg reported.

Although the fines totaled £116 million when first levied in 2007, last year the OFT dropped the fines to £70 million after dropping some aspects of the charges for insufficient evidence.

Chestnut, England-based Tesco is Britain's largest supermarket chain, Bloomberg reported.

The primary source of this article is Bloomberg, New York, New York, on Oct. 20, 2011.

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