Apple won't cooperate with antitrust probe, lawyer charges

An attorney appointed to monitor Apple's behavior following an e-book antitrust ruling says the company is obstructing his investigation.

CNET

Apple has proven itself a pain in the neck for a court-appointed monitor, at least according to a legal document filed on Monday.

In October, a US judge asked former Assistant US Attorney and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Bromwich to keep tabs on Apple following a ruling that charged the company with conspiring with other publishers to set e-book prices.

Just one month after the investigation started, Apple and Bromwich were already at odds with each other . Apple cited the attorney's fees as excessive, while Bromwich complained that his requests to meet with key Apple people were largely being ignored.

Now Bromwich has laid out his full list of grievances against Apple in a court filing dubbed the "Bromwich Declaration."

In the document, the attorney charged that responses to requested meetings with Apple personnel have been limited. Since October, Bromwich said, his team has been given access to only one board member and one senior executive. Further, 7 of the 11 people allowed to speak to the team were lawyers rather then business employees.

The interviews themselves have not taken place at Apple's corporate HQ in Cupertino, Calif., but instead in a "remote location several miles away in Sunnyvale, Calif.," Bromwich added.

"This is far less access than I have ever received during a comparable period of time in the three other monitorships I have conducted," the attorney said.

Bromwich also complained that his team has so far received only a small number of all the documents requested and promised.

"We have been provided, a month after we were told that all the materials would be produced promptly, only 303 pages of documents, which constitutes an incomplete response to the requests we made on October 22," he said."'

Kyle Andeer, Apple's director of competition law, may have provided some reasoning behind Apple's apparent reticence to fully cooperate, according to Bromwich's filing. Andeer told Bromwich that Apple was very concerned about the requests to speak with board members and senior executives as they were very busy, according to Bromwich. But he also said that "we would see a lot of anger about the case that still existed within the company," according to Bromwich.

In his filing, Bromwich also contrasted Apple's behavior with those of past companies that he was appointed to monitor.

"In my 20 years of doing oversight work, I have never before had the entity over which I was exercising oversight unilaterally dictate who could be interviewed, even in those instances in which I have dealt with very sensitive matters, including highly classified matters of national security," Bromwich said.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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