Total, Arkema Lose EU Appeals of Cartel Fine
Bloomberg reports that Total SA, Europe’s largest refiner, and its former subsidiary Arkema SA, lost European Union court appeals against a 78.6 million-euro ($112 million) fine levied for unlawful price-fixing of bleaching chemicals. The EU General Court, the region’s second-highest tribunal, rejected all arguments by the companies and upheld the fines in a ruling in Luxembourg today. The European Commission, the EU’s antitrust regulator, fined seven companies 388.1 million euros in 2006 for fixing prices of hydrogen peroxide and sodium perborates, used by the pulp and paper industry and to make antiseptic and hair-care products. Solvay SA and Akzo Nobel previously paid $72.8 million to settle U.S. criminal charges in a similar cartel. The General Court last month overturned a 58.1 million-euro penalty that had been imposed on Edison SpA in the same cartel. The court overturned the EU decision holding Air Liquide SA, the world’s biggest producer of industrial gases, responsible for price-fixing. Air Liquide hadn’t been fined because it left the market early and the EU’s deadline to levy a fine had run out. The court last month also slashed Solvay’s fine for its role in the price-fixing to 139.5 million euros, from 167 million euros.