India watchdog says DP World trying to halt possible adverse probe findings

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India’s antitrust regulator said in a court filing that a challenge by Dubai’s DP World of a probe into its alleged anti-competitive practices at a Mumbai port is an effort to halt or delay possible adverse findings against the firm.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) told a Mumbai court that DP World’s local unit had “prematurely” rushed to court to stall or delay the probe, according to a filing by the watchdog dated Jan. 30 and seen by Reuters.

The CCI filing has not been previously reported, and DP World did not respond immediately to an email requesting comment.

The CCI last year ordered an investigation into suspected antitrust violations by DP World and Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk at the terminals they operate at state-owned Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT).

DP World had urged a court in Mumbai to quash or put on hold CCI’s investigation, saying it would “would lead to gross discrimination and grave economic harm.” The court has so far not halted the investigation.

“The reason for (DP World’s action) is not difficult to discern. The petitioners, appear to have, pre-empted that the Director General may return with a finding against (them),” CCI’s secretary P.K. Singh said in the agency’s filing.

The CCI probe followed a complaint by Singapore’s PSA International Pte Ltd alleging that Maersk and DP World created barriers to hinder the growth of PSA’s terminal at JNPT by colluding on certain charges they levy at the port.

JNPT is critical to India’s international trade, handling 66 million tonnes of cargo in the fiscal year through March 2018. The port typically handles more than half of India’s annual container traffic.

In its filing, the antitrust authority said DP World’s attempt to quash the antitrust probe should not be allowed as it “would encourage every enterprise against whom investigation is ordered … to approach courts and seek similar relief.”

The CCI has since last year launched several antitrust investigations involving foreign companies.

Other than the Mumbai ports case, CCI is probing the business activity of beer companies such as Carlsberg and Anheuser Busch InBev, as well as global commodities trader Glencore.

Source: Reuters

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