E.ON loses its appeal against €38m EU seal tampering fine

Marion Dakers
ENERGY group E.ON must pay a €38m (£30m) fine for breaking a seal on a door during a European Commission antitrust raid in 2006.

E.ON yesterday lost its appeal against the penalty, which was imposed after a surprise inspection at the firm’s E.ON Energie offices in Munich.

Because the probe took place over several days, inspectors locked and sealed the door to a room full of documents.

But when they returned the next day, the seal showed signs of having been tampered with.

In 2008, the European Commission slapped E.ON with the €38m fine, but the case has meandered through the courts for years after the firm appealed.

The European Court of Justice yesterday ruled that the fine, which represented 0.14 per cent of E.ON Energie’s turnover, “could not be considered as excessive in the light of the need to ensure the deterrent effect of that penalty”.

The regulators had the power to fine the firm up to one per cent of turnover, or up to 10 per cent of turnover if evidence of anti-competitive behaviour had been found.

It had also been ruled that E.ON could not argue that the seal, which displayed a “VOID” message upon the inspectors’ return, might have been defective.