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Cathay Pacific, JAL come under EU-US cargo cartel probe

Feb 15, 2006 | AFP Asian airlines have been raided as part of a a global probe into suspected price-fixing in the air cargo industry, officials at the carriers say.

Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific and Japanese flag carrier Japan Air Lines (JAL) were both drawn into the probe, which was launched by European and American investigators Tuesday.

Cathay Pacific said Wednesday it was among "a number of international airlines" caught up in the joint EU and US investigation.

In a statement, the company denied any wrongdoing and said it was cooperating with investigators.

"Cathay Pacific is in cooperation with the European Union Commission and United States Department of Justice in respect to their investigation into air cargo operations," the statement said.

"We understand that they have also requested information from a number of international airlines," it added.

A Cathay Pacific spokeswoman said the inspection of its premises had been unannounced but she would not characterise it as a raid.

"I don't know what happened elsewhere but in Hong Kong it was very business-like," the spokeswoman said. "Cathay is a law-abiding company."

Separately, Hirokazu Inoue, a spokesman for JAL said Asia's largest carrier had been raided.

"Our office in Frankfurt was raided by the European Union's anti-monopoly authorities," Inoue said.

"We have nothing to say about the matter as it is still under investigation but we will fully cooperate with the authorities on the investigation," he added.

In Seoul, officials said Fair and Trade Commission investigators interviewed employees and searched for documents at cargo business offices at Korean Air and Asiana Airlines in similar raids Tuesday.

EU inspectors raided the offices of major European airlines Tuesday but did not name the companies.

British Airways, however, said earlier Tuesday it had received a request for information from both the EU executive and the US Justice Department as part of a probe into a suspected cartel of airlines and air freight companies.

It added that it had alway conformed with anti-trust regulations and would cooperate with the EU and US authorities.

Air France and Deutsche Lufthansa AG said they were being investigated by the EU executive and would fully cooperate

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