EU fines five companies for fixing chemical prices
December 12, 2003
Dow Jones Business News reports that European Union regulators fined five companies a total of EUR70 million for fixing the prices of key industrial chemicals. Regulators concluded the companies had colluded over sales of organic peroxides, used to make plastics and polystyrene for products like containers and packaging. Total SA''s unit Atofina was fined EUR43.5 million, Degussa SA''s U.K. subsidiary EUR16.7 million and Peroxid Chemie EUR8.8 million. Smaller penalties were levied against two other companies - EUR500,000 against Perorsa and only EUR1,000 against AC Treuhand AG. Dutch company Akzo Nobel NV escaped a fine as it was the first company to tell cartel busters about the collusion. Total has already been punished by U.S. regulators for fixing the organic peroxides market. Total unit Elf Atochem paid $8.5 million in 2002 for colluding over sales of the peroxides and for rigging markets for a substance called MCAA, which is used in products ranging from pharmaceuticals and herbicides to plastics. In 2001, Akzo Nobel paid $12 million to U.S. regulators for MCAA offenses. In a statement, the E.U. Commission said the producers operated a cartel between January 1971 and the end of 1999. The cartel was founded by Akzo, Total and Peroxid Chemie, the Commission said. The other companies joined later.