Tesco is preparing a legal battle to clear its name of involvement in the dairy price-fixing scandal that has cost consumers £270 million. Failure to prove that it had no part in collusion with other supermarkets and dairy processors may land it with a fine of at least £80 million. The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said yesterday that Asda, Sainsbury’s and the former Safeway, plus the dairy companies Wiseman, Dairy Crest and Cheese Company, had admitted being in a cartel to fix prices for milk, butter and cheese. They were fined a total of just over £116 million as part of a leniency deal offered by the watchdog to companies that owned up quickly to anti-competitive behaviour.
Officials at the OFT admitted privately that they did not think they would ever discover which company or individual had initiated the pricing formula. But the watchdog recognises that at the time supermarkets were under pressure from politicians and farmers to raise the cost of milk to save dairy farming, though it is not certain that money found its way to farmers. The OFT claimed in September that it had found evidence that the retail chains had passed future milk prices to dairy companies, which then reached a fixed price among themselves.
The average cost to each household is thought to be £11.25 over 2002 and 2003. Prices went up an extra 3p on a pint of milk, 15p on a quarter of a pound of butter and 15p on a half pound of cheese. There is no direct recompense for consumers, however, and the money will go to the Treasury. The National Consumer Council gave warning that the admissions would dent consumer confidence in leading high street names and that people would become sceptical of their claims. Farmers For Action, the group of farmers that has led protests over low milk prices since 2000, is seeking legal advice on whether it can now bring a claim for compensation.
The OFT investigation is continuing, however, in relation to Tesco, Morrisons and the dairy group Lactalis McLelland, and any legal action is expected to be delayed until that is completed.
Tesco was defiant and said that it was preparing a robust defence of its actions. Lucy Neville-Rolfe, its executive director, said: “As we have always said, we acted independently and we did not collude with anyone. Our position is different from our competitors and we are defending our own case vigorously. Our philosophy is to give a good deal to customers.”
Morrisons has supported the OFT in inquiries into the former Safeway business that it took over, but in a statement said that it was still making “strong representations” in its defence. A spokeswoman for Lactalis McLelland said that the company was “co-operating” with the OFT. Industry insiders suggested that the three companies were deliberately stalling the OFT investigation.
Sainsbury’s admitted yesterday that it had agreed to pay £26 million in fines, but denied that it had sought to profiteer. Justin King, the chief executive, said he was disappointed that the company had been penalised for actions meant to help farmers but recognised the benefit of a speedy settlement. Asda declined to say how much it would pay in fines and also said that its intention had been to help farmers under severe financial pressure.
1. From the first paragraph, we may infer that _____
[A] Tesco is the most resolute among all the retailers to defend its reputation.
[B] it is already proved that Tesco has colluded with Asda, Wiseman, Dairy Crest and Cheese Company in fixing the dairy price.
[C] Tesco is offered a leniency deal of £80 million because of its quick response to the anti-competitive behaviors
[D] Tesco is trying its best to prove its innocence of the scandal.
2. Who is most probably the initiator of the pricing formula?
[A] Retail chains.
[C] Dairy companies.
3. The word “defiant” (Line 1, Paragraph 5) most probably means _____.
4. We may infer from Morrisons’ statement that _____
[A] Morrisons turn out to be the most defentive when dealing with OFT.
[B] Morrisons is reluctant to support the inquiries into the former Safeway business.
[C] industry insiders suggest that Morrisons was trying to delay the OFT investigation with non-cooperation.
[D] Morrisons indeed refuses to admit its involvement in the scandal.
5. The writer’s attitude to Tesco can be said to be _____
processor n. 加工者 `cartel n. 卡特尔, 联合企业, 垄断集团
leniency n. 宽大，慈悲,慈悲宽厚的行为 dent v.使凹下, 凹进, 削弱
defiant adj.挑战的, 挑衅的, 目中无人的 stall v.(使)停转, (使)停止, 迟延 profiteer vi. 牟取暴利
(1) They were fined a total of just over £116 million as part of a leniency deal offered by the watchdog to companies that owned up quickly to anti-competitive behaviour.
主体句式: They were fined a total of just over £116 million as part of a leniency deal…
结构分析: 这是一个复合句，其成分比较复杂。offered by the watchdog to companies作为一个分词短语来修饰前面的deal, 而后面that引导的定语从句又修饰companies。
(2) The National Consumer Council gave warning that the admissions would dent consumer confidence in leading high street names and that people would become sceptical of their claims.
[主体句式] The National Consumer Council gave warning…
[结构分析] 这是一个复合句，句子的宾语warning 带着两个同位语从句，以that 引导;第一个同位语从句中，confidence in 后面是一个分词短语作介词的宾语。
[分析] 推理题。第一段主要讲述了Tesco公司已被卷入和其他公司联手划定牛奶价格的丑闻中，目前正在通过法律手段来证明自己与此无关。选项A的表述在文章中并没有明确表述，Tesco 虽然正在诉诸法律手段保卫其名誉，但是否态度最坚决我们无法得知。选项B, 文章中只是说明后几家公司承认其定价行为，但并为说明Tesco与他们联合。选项C，文章指出如果Tesco的丑闻被证实后会被处以的处罚并且是一种宽大措施，但金额应该为£116而不是£80。选项D，Tesco 正在竭力证明自己和传闻无关，这正是第一段论述的内容。
[分析] 猜词题。根据其上下文的意思，Tesco 声称正在为自己的行为准备最坚决的辩护，其执行理事的一番话也表现了他们这种强硬的态度，可见他们采取了一种抵抗的态度，选项[A]最为符合。
[分析] 推理题。要结合上下文来理解Morrisons的意思，Morrisons has supported the OFT in inquiries into the former Safeway business that it took over, but in a statement said that it was still making “strong representations” in its defense. 前后两个分句是转折关系，可以看出Morrisons的态度。虽然他协助OFT对于前Safeway的调查，但是他却声称在辩护中仍要做出抗议。行动上他是一种合作态度，但他还是要竭力维护自己的利益、并且没有任何迹象表明其承认了卷入丑闻的指控，因此选项D最为符合。而其余三个选项都与前面的意思分析相反。
[分析] 态度题。 作者的态度可以通过材料的选择和措辞看出来，作者在文章中列出了Tesco有关方面的事件，但一直没有做出任何的直接评判，也没有通过任何字眼来暗示自己的意思，因此可以认为作者采取了一种比较客观的态度。
Tesco为了摆脱限定奶制品价格风波，正在准备一场大官司。奶制品事件已经给消费者带来了两亿七千万的损失。如果不能证明自己并未和其他超市、奶制品加工商串通一气的话，它就得接受至少八千万的罚单。昨天，OFT声称Asda, Sainsbury’s 和前 Safeway，还有奶制品公司Wiseman, Dairy Crest and Cheese Company都已承认它们联合设定了牛奶、黄油及奶酪的价格。他们总共的罚金只有差不多一亿一千六百万，这是监察部门对积极坦白反竞争行为公司的一种宽大处理。
2002和2003年间平均每户损失为11.25英镑。每品脱牛奶价格上涨3便士，每0.25磅黄油上涨15便士，每半磅奶酪涨15便士。但是消费者却没有任何的补偿，利润全部到了国库。全国消费者委员会警告说长此以往会损害消费者的信心，人们也会逐渐怀疑委员会的声明。Farmers For Action2002年以来一直领导农民抗议牛奶价格过低，目前在就是否可以申请补偿寻求法律意见。
不过OFT还在继续对Tesco, Morrisons 和奶制品集团 Lactalis McLelland进行调查，任何法律行为都将推迟到调查结束。