Global Processing

Total, Arkema Lose EU Appeals of Cartel Fine

July 18, 2011

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. Total’s arguments “were manifestly not capable of constituting a sufficient body of evidence to rebut the presumption of imputability to the parent company,” the court said. 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 NV previously paid $72.8 million to settle U.S. criminal charges in a similar cartel. The cartel lasted from 1994 until 2000, according to the EU regulator. The penalties followed a 3 1/2 year probe against 18 companies.