Fender Europe has been fined £25,000 by the Competition and Markets Authority after it was found that a “senior officer” had concealed notebooks during an inspection of its East Grinstead, UK offices.
The company voluntarily handed over the notebooks three weeks after the inspection took place. The CMA makes it clear that “no assumption should be made that Fender Europe has been involved in anti-competitive behaviour”.
The CMA is currently investigating several top guitar and music tech companies - including Fender, Roland, Yamaha and Korg - in a price-fixing probe. Any company found to be involved in price-fixing activity can be fined up to 10% of its global turnover.
“This fine sends a very clear signal to companies that they need to comply fully with their legal obligations when the CMA conducts investigations,” said Ann Pope, the CMA’s Senior Director of Antitrust.
“Hiding documents is a serious matter and the decision to issue Fender Europe with a fine reflects this. When companies conceal evidence, or illegally obstruct our investigations, it makes it harder for the CMA to protect consumers.”
A Fender EMEA spokesperson said:
“We are disappointed to be fined for the actions of a single former UK-based employee who acted without Fender’s knowledge.
“We do not condone such behaviour and are pleased that the Competition and Markets Authority recognised that, upon Fender becoming aware of the individual’s actions, we immediately investigated, located the documents and supplied them.”