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EU antitrust official joins firm serving Microsoft

EU official leading antitrust case against Microsoft leaves for consultancy that has software giant as client.

A European Commission official originally chosen to lead its antitrust case against Microsoft left on Friday last week to work for a consultancy that has the software giant as a client, a commission spokesman said. "Friday was his last day," the spokesman said on Tuesday of Henri Piffaut, the official involved. Piffaut has a one-year leave of absence to work for LECG, an economic consultancy in Brussels, London and other cities.

Spokesman Jonathan Todd said Piffaut and LECG had agreed on strict conditions to avoid any conflict of interest. "He will have no contact with the commission during that time and will not do any work for clients that have been involved in competition cases in which he has worked," Todd said. Piffaut, who is French, had been due this month to take over an antitrust unit at the European Union handling Microsoft and other high-profile technology cases. Atilano Jorge Padilla, LECG's director of competition policy for Europe, said last month that the Brussels office did little work for Microsoft.