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Belgian supermarkets accused of price fixing

BRUSSELS, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Belgium's largest supermarkets engaged in price fixing of personal hygiene products, including soap and toilet paper, an expert at Belgium's competition board has ruled.

The findings of the investigation, which was started in 2007, will now be presented to the competition council which will decide whether to impose a fine over the next months.

"Price fixing of this kind constitutes one of the most substantial breaches of competition rules. It can be expected that the fines will be substantial," said Bert Stulens, auditor general for Belgium's competition watchdog.

Stulens said the groups involved in the investigation were the seven largest in country.

Discount retailer Colruyt , which has a quarter of the market share in Belgium, confirmed that it had received the details of the investigation but said it had not yet studied it completely.

The two other major supermarket chains, Delhaize and Carrefour's Belgian unit, were not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting By Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

(robertjan.bartunek@thomsonreuters.com; +32 2 2876850)

Keywords: BELGIUM COMPETITION/