EU hits acrylic glass cartel with $442 million in fines
According to the Associated Press, the European Commission recently imposed fines of about $442 million on four companies for fixing prices over a six-year period on acrylic glass which is widely used in cars, household appliances and DVDs. European Union regulators said they had uncovered business behavior that was a "very serious infringement" of EU antitrust rules. French oil company Total SA''s chemical unit Arkema was fined 219 million euros ($281 million)—the fourth largest fine levied by the EU in such a case. Britain''s Imperial Chemical Industries PLC was ordered to pay 91 million euros ($117 million), British chemical company Lucite International was fined 25 million euros ($32 million) and Ireland''s Quinn Group Ltd. has to pay 9 million euros ($11.5 million). The EU said the fines took account of the size of the European market, worth around 665 million euros ($854 million) annually. A fifth company, Germany''s Degussa SA, escaped a 264 million euro ($339 million) fine because it was the first to blow the whistle on the cartel. The EU said the five companies agreed, fixed and monitored target prices for acrylic glass, and exchanged commercially important and confidential information in Europe between 1997 and 2002. The companies have two months to appeal the fine to an EU court. If the fines are upheld, the money goes into the EU budget, usually funded by EU governments. The Commission said the fines ultimately reduce the burden on individual taxpayers.