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FRANKFURT, July 15 (Reuters) - European engineering firms Siemens and Alstom are cooperating with Brazilian authorities investigating anti-competitive practices in relation to a major rail tender, the companies said on Monday.
Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reported on Sunday, citing no sources, that Germany's Siemens had notified Brazilian antitrust authorities of the existence of a cartel, in which it took part, related to bidding for the purchase of railway equipment and the construction and maintenance of railway lines.
Siemens said it was aware of the investigation and was cooperating fully with Brazilian authorities but did not say whether and how it was involved in the matter.
"Siemens' code of conduct emphasizes the importance of fair competition and obligates all employees to comply with antitrust regulations," the company said in an e-mailed statement on Monday.
"Siemens fully cooperates with the authorities."
Folha said the cartel included France's Alstom, Canada's Bombardier, Spain's CAF and Japan's Mitsui , the leading candidates to win a contract for a high-speed train between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
The Brazilian government said late last year that the winner of the contract will have to invest 7.7 billion reais ($3.40 billion), offer economy class tickets of no more than 200 reais and guarantee that trains cover the 260 miles (420 km) between Rio and Sao Paulo in no more than 99 minutes.
A spokeswoman for Alstom said the company had received a request for documents from Brazil's Council for Economic Defence (CADE) last week relating to competition.
"We have provided these documents and we are cooperating with the authorities," she said.
CAF declined to comment. Bombardier and Mitsui were not immediately available.
According to Folha, the auction to pick an operator for the new train line is due to take place next month.