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BRUSSELS, July 19 (Reuters) – The European Commission said on Tuesday it had sent a statement of objections to U.S. life sciences firms Illumina and GRAIL alleging they breached EU merger rules by implementing the merger while the Commission’s in-depth investigation into the proposed transaction was still ongoing.

“If companies jump the gun and implement deals that are subject to our review, they undermine the effective functioning of our EU merger control system. This is a serious breach of the standstill obligation,” Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said.

“Illumina and GRAIL have openly done so by implementing their deal while the Commission is still carrying out its in-depth investigation. This could result in hefty fines,” she said.

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Reporting by Jan Strupczewski

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.