Israeli food company Elite Industries may face charges of trying to prevent UK rival Cadbury Schweppes from entering the Israeli chocolate market, according to the country’s Anti-Trust Authority.

Anti-trust commissioner Dror Strum told Reuters that lawyers for the regulator were considering whether there is enough evidence to charge Elite for allegedly abusing its monopoly status in the Israeli chocolate and cocoa sector.

“We held a nine-month investigation and now our legal department is checking if the evidence is enough to indict Elite,” Strum told Reuters. “It seems there are indications that Elite tried to knock Cadbury out of the market.

“We instigated the investigation because in such a small economy we have to make sure competition is maintained. It was a standard procedure to look into what was happening in the sector,” Strum said.

Cadbury Trebor Bassett, a unit of UK confectionery and soft drinks giant Cadbury Schweppes, announced at the end of 2002 that it planned to enter the NIS1.6bn (US$357.8m) Israeli chocolate and sugar confectionery market. The company said it aimed to control 12% of the chocolate market by the end of this year, but media reports have said that Cadbury has captured just 3% so far.