LONDON The European Ombudsman, Nikiforos Diamandouros, has gone public in saying he has found the European Commission Competition Directorate guilty of maladministration on one count in a complaint brought by Intel Corp. However, the ruling is unlikely to alter case.
Intel brought the complaint after it was fined a record 1.06 billion euros (about $1.6 billion at current exchange rates) in May, when the European Commission found that it had abused its position in the semiconductor market to persuade computer makers not to buy chips from AMD, its main rival.
The complaint concerned alleged procedural errors by the Commission during an anti-trust investigation of Intel. The Ombudsman found maladministration on the grounds that the Commission failed to make a proper note of a meeting with computer manufacturer Dell relating to the Intel investigation.
According to Diamandouros, the Commission did not formally record an account of a meeting it had with a senior Dell executive in August 2006. Intel alleges that the testimony if available could support the position that Dell chose Intel's chips on merit rather than being bullied into doing so, as the Commission's ruling found.
The ombudsman has no authority to change the outcome of the case, but he is one of the few independent checks on the EU's powerful executive arm, the EC. The news is also somewhat moot as many of the Ombudsman's findings were leaked back in August 2009. The latest publication is of a non-confidential version of the original decision.
In addition, peace broke out between Intel and AMD with an agreement by Intel to pay AMD of