Deutsche Telekom Wins EU Court Spat Over Unpaid Interest
Deutsche Telekom AG won a European Union court bid for compensation in a dispute over interest on a cartel fine paid to the EU when rates went negative, and later partly returned to the company.
The EU General Court, the bloc’s second-highest tribunal, on Wednesday awarded the company 1.8 million euros ($2 million) in compensation “for the harm which it suffered as a result of the European Commission’s refusal to pay it default interest on the amount of the fine which it had unduly paid for an infringement of competition rules.”
The European Commission in 2014 fined the company 31.1 million euros for stifling Internet rivals. On appeal, a lower EU court cut the fine by about 12 million euros, which Deutsche Telekom has been repaid, but a dispute arose over the commission’s refusal to pay back interest because returns on the fine for that period had been negative.
The case runs a risk for EU regulators who are being ordered to pay interest on cartel fines they have to hand back, even though the fines they hold rarely gathers any interest and may even lose value. The EU is still waiting for final court rulings in mega-fines against Google and Qualcomm Inc.
Deutsche Telekom said it welcomes the ruling and “will still analyze the details.”
The Brussels-based commission said it will “carefully study the judgment and reflect on possible next steps.”
The ruling can be appealed one last time.
The case is: T-610/19, Deutsche Telekom v. Commission.
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