EU hits truck firms with record €3bn fine
By Eszter Zalan
The EU's antitrust chief handed down a record €3 billion fine on Tuesday (19 July) on truck makers in penalties for colluding in an illegal cartel for over 14 years to fix prices and passing on the costs of emission rules.
The €2.93 billion fine will hit major European truck making companies, as the EU Commission has found that MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco, and DAF broke European antitrust rules.
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Scania is not covered by the decision, the investigation will go on in their case.
MAN was not fined as it was the company that revealed the existence of the cartel to the commission. All companies acknowledged their involvement and agreed to settle the case.
EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager told press on Tuesday: "The case concerns a very large market, and continued for a very long time.
"It pays off to denounce a cartel and cooperate with the commission. The cheapest thing of course is not to participate in a cartel."
Companies have three month to pay the fine, which will go to the EU budget and reduce member states contributions to the coffers.
Vestager said nine out of every 10 medium and heavy trucks produced in Europe were part of a cartel instead of competing with each other.
She said managers of the companies got together in 1997 in a hotel in Brussels and agreed on cooperating.
They discussed their envisaged gross list price increases for medium and heavy trucks, which were the basis for the prices in the industry. They also agreed to set a timetable for the introduction of technologies of reduction of harmful emissions.
The commission has been investigating several European truck makers since 2011 over suspicions they fixed prices and worked together on when to implement new emissions control technologies.
In 2012, EU investigators raided the offices of several companies suspected of participating in the price-fixing scheme.
The commission charged truck makers officially in 2014 for breaching the EU's antitrust rules by creating a cartel.
The commission can impose fines of up to 10 percent of a company’s global revenue.
The truck makers would also have to pay for damages filed by private companies, for instance haulage companies.
The largest fine by the EU commission so far has been handed down in 2012 with €1.41 billion against electronics companies for manipulating prices of television and computer tubes.