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On 11 August 2014, the European Commission published details of a challenge made against the Commission in the high voltage power cables cartel case. The cartel case relates to the €302 million fine levied against 11 producers of high voltage power cables for operating a market sharing cartel. Specifically, Pirelli, a parent company at the time of Prysmian, was levied with a fine €104,613,000 under joint and several liability with Prysmian. As Pirelli was considered by the Commission to be –Read More–

Washing powder, power cables, car and truck bearings, polyurethane foam, and North Sea shrimps. What do these have in common? All have had to pay millions of Euros in settlement to the European Commission due to infringements of competition law. Canned mushrooms is but the latest product in the food sector to fall to the growing scrutiny of the Commission. A Commission investigation revealed that four producers had become involved in a strategy of mutual benefit, a so called ‘non-aggression pact’, –Read More–

On 5 June 2014, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on a cartel case referred by an Austrian Court, concerning a lift and escalator cartel and is crucial in clarifying the EU’s position on the controversial subject of umbrella pricing. The ECJ ruled that customers of non-cartel members were able to claim for damages caused by market price inflation, provided a causal link could be proved between the cartel’s actions and a third-party price increase. The case stems from –Read More–

On 2 April 2014, the European Commission fined a well-known investment company amongst 18 other companies for participation in a market and customer sharing cartel in high voltage power cables. The importance of this decision is that it shows investment companies, which may not have any participation in their portfolio companies cartel activity, can be held liable nethertheless. The European Commission considers that the behaviour occurred over a 10 year period and that the cartel had a worldwide effect in –Read More–

For the first time, and after many attempts, the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that it had successfully extradited a foreign national to stand trial in the U.S. to face criminal antitrust charges for price fixing, bid rigging, and market allocation. Prior attempts at extradition in antitrust cases have been unsuccessful, in part, because extradition generally requires dual criminality – meaning that the charged offense must be a crime under both countries’ laws. For example, in 2010, the British courts –Read More–

The Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”), the new central competition regulator, will continue the Office of Fair Trading’s (“OFT”) policy of cash rewards for cartel whistleblowers. The little known programme has been in place since 2008 and aims to reward individuals who come forward with inside information on cartel activity such as price fixing or allocating customers between competitors. Rewards of £100,000 are available to individuals but the full £100,000 will not be awarded in every situation. The CMA, like –Read More–

On 20 March 2014, the Office of Fair Trading (“OFT”) closed its investigation into the supply of prescription medication to care homes in England and confirmed the fines leveled on a pharmacist. The decision by the OFT is important as a case study to illustrate how settlement and compliance with the competition authorities can substantially reduce regulatory fines. The fines relate to conduct from May 2011 to November 2011 between Quantum Pharmaceutical Limited (“Quantum“) and Lloyds Pharmacy Limited (“Lloyds“). Under –Read More–

On 19th March 2014, the European Commission announced it had fined a number of companies engaged in a cartel on the EU automotive bearings market €953 million for their conduct. The companies involved were two European companies (Sweden’s SKF and Germany’s Schaeffler) and four Japanese companies (JTEKT, NSK, NFC and NTN with its French subsidiary NTN-SNR). The Commission’s Decision brings to an end an investigation which started with unannounced inspections in November 2011. The Decision was taken under the EU Commission’s –Read More–

UK criminal cartel prosecutions could soon increase in the UK as the competition regulator focuses upon securing prosecutions following a change in the law. On 1st April 2014, the UK’s new competition law regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”), takes over the Office of Fair Trading’s competition watchdog role. In preparation for this, the CMA on 12 March 2014 published prosecutorial guidance (“the Guidance”) in respect of the controversial new amended cartel offence. The cartel offence is contained in –Read More–

On 5 March 2014, the European Commission announced that it has fined EPEX Spot and Nord Pool Spot, both European spot power exchanges, a total of €5,979,000 for breach of Article 101(1) of the Treaty for the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). So what are power exchanges and why are they so important? Power exchanges are organised markets for trading electricity and they bring together power generators and traders. Spot trading refers to short-term trading on an exchange either –Read More–

On 18 February 2014, the German Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) imposed fines totaling around €280m on the three major German sugar manufacturers Pfeifer & Langen GmbH & Co. KG, Südzucker AG and Nordzucker AG for fixing prices, setting quotas and sharing markets. The infringements involved the sale of industrial and consumer sugar and took place over several years dating back to the mid ‘90s until the Bundeskartellamt started investigations in 2009. The sugar producers had formed a “territorial cartel” and –Read More–

Applying finite resources to almost infinite market problems is a common concern for any regulator. The new UK super competition regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority, comes into force on the 1st April 2014 and has indicated that it will be more active than its predecessor, the Office of Fair Trading, in hunting down cartel activity. Both the OFT and the EU Commission (who regulates competition across the EU) have leniency or whistleblower programmes in place. Companies can approach the –Read More–

On 29 January 2014, the EU Commission published a decision leveling a fine against the members of a foam cartel. The cartel was between four producers of polyurethane foam, a type of foam used in mattresses, car seats and sofas. The four companies involved were Eurofoam, Carpenter, Recticel and Vita who were alleged to have conspired between 2005 and 2010 in several EU Member States to fix prices and pass on costs to consumers in order to avoid price competition –Read More–

On 4 December 2013 the EU Commission fined eight international banks for participation in cartels in Euro interest rate derivatives and Yen interest rate derivatives. This is another chapter in the LIBOR fixing scandal that has rocked the financial world and led to the worldwide exposure of wrongdoing by bank executives. Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Societe Generale, RBS, Credit Agricole, JP Morgan and HSBC were fined for exchanging information in their submissions in the EURIBOR between September 2005 and May 2008 –Read More–