South Korean officials seek more documents from Intel

Regulators paid an unscheduled visit to the vendor this week

Korea Fair Trade Commission officials earlier this week paid "an unscheduled visit" to Intel Corp.'s office in Seoul, seeking additional documents from the company as part of an ongoing investigation into its business practices, an Intel spokesman said.

"They made the call during normal business hours," said Chuck Mulloy, an Intel spokesman, challenging rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s characterization of the visit as a "dawn raid." The visit took place on Tuesday, he said.

The KFTC visit was related to a previously announced investigation into Intel's business practices. In June 2005, Korean regulators first requested documents from Intel related to its dealings with local PC makers, including its marketing and rebate programs. Intel revealed the investigation in an August 2005 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

"They're seeking additional information into our business practices," Mulloy said, noting that Intel has provided information to KFTC investigators in recent months. "The only thing that's marginally unusual is that this was an unscheduled visit that we didn't expect," he said.

South Korea isn't the only country where Intel faces scrutiny over its business practices. In July 2005, European Commission officials raided Intel offices in Swindon, England, and Munich, Germany, as part of an investigation into the company's business practices in those places.

In addition, the Japan Fair Trade Commission last year recommended that Intel end its practice of offering funds to PC makers in exchange for a commitment not to use processors from its competitors. Intel accepted those recommendations, which came after a lengthy JFTC investigation, saying at the time that it wanted to avoid a protracted legal battle.

Intel is also being sued in the U.S. and Japan by AMD over alleged antitrust violations. Intel has denied the charges.

"We have been scrutinized many times in the past, and we expect to be in the future," Mulloy said. "It comes with the territory."

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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