December 22, 2007 / 2:43 AM / 11 years ago

RPT-UPDATE 1-Canada chocolate makers talked of price fixing-WSJ

(Adds details, background)

NEW YORK, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Representatives from chocolate companies in Canada have been talking to one another for as long as five years about fixing prices, the Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site on Friday, citing court affidavits.

The companies included Hershey Co (HSY.N), Mars, Nestle SA NESN.VX and ITWAL Ltd, a Canadian candy distributor, the Journal reported.

People from one company who were not named in court documents supplied e-mails and information about telephone calls and private meetings among the companies to a lawyer at Canada’s Competition Bureau, the Journal said, citing two affidavits filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

The bureau filed the affidavits to support a request for a warrant to search Canadian offices of those companies, the Journal reported, but no charges have been filed.

Hershey said it had no comment. None of the other companies were immediately available for comment.

In November, Canadian authorities launched an investigation into allegations of anti-competitive practices in the chocolate industry.

The Competition Bureau issued warrants on Nov. 21 for its officers to conduct searches and the Canadian units of Nestle, Mars and Hershey confirmed they were contacted by the bureau. (Reporting by Aarthi Sivaraman, editing by Richard Chang)

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