Police raid offices of top French electrical firms in corruption probe

PARIS (Reuters) - The offices of four of France’s largest electrical goods’ companies were raided by police on Thursday on suspicion of cartel pricing and corruption, a judicial source said.

Twelve searches were carried out at Legrand, Rexel, Sonepar and Schneider Electric as part of an investigation opened in June, the source said.

The investigation targeting the four groups was launched by the Paris prosecutor’s office following reports received in April from the Competition Authority and the French Anti-Corruption Agency, the source said.

That companies are suspected of cartel pricing, forgery, breach of trust, misuse of corporate assets, tax fraud and bribery, according to the source.

Investigative website Mediapart reported in April a secret deal between Schneider, Legrand, Sonepar and Rexel to raise prices by limiting competition.

If the companies are found guilty of cartel pricing they could face hundreds of millions of euros in fines.

A spokeswoman for Schneider Electric said the company was cooperating with authorities.

A spokesman for Legrand declined to comment. Rexel and Sonepar could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; writing by John Irish; editing by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by Toby Chopra