The European Commission fines two maritime car carriers and four car parts suppliersE UR 546 million in three separate cartel…

Four maritime car carriers, two suppliers of spark plugs and two suppliers of braking systems have been fined EUR 395 million, EUR 76 million and EUR 75 million respectively, in the framework of three separate cartel settlement decisions adopted by the European Commission.

With regard to the first ones, the Commission established that Chilean maritime carrier CSAV, the Japanese carriers “K” Line, MOL and NYK, and the Norwegian/Swedish carrier WWL-EUKOR participated in a cartel concerning intercontinental maritime transport of vehicles from 2006 to 2012. According to the Commission, the carriers’ sales managers held regular meetings at different locations and spoke over the phone. The aim of these contacts was to coordinate prices, allocate customers and exchange commercially sensitive information. The participants to the cartel proposed artificially high prices or abstained from participating in specific tenders so as to stay off each other’s traditional routes and customers.

This investigation was launched as a result of an application for immunity filed by MOL, which in exchange received full immunity and avoided a fine totalling EUR 203 million. For its part, CSAV, “K” Line, NYK and WWL-EUKOR obtained important reductions in their respective fines for their cooperation with the Commission. Since all the participants acknowledged their participation in the cartel, all of them benefit from an extra discount of 10% in their fines, in accordance to the Commission’s 2008 Settlement Notice.

As for the spark plugs suppliers Bosch, Denso and NGK, the Commission found that they had participated in an EEA-wide cartel from 2010 to 2011. The cartel consisted in exchanging commercially sensitive information, agreeing on prices for specific customers and respecting each other’s historical supply rights. The investigation was prompted by an application for immunity submitted by Denso, which avoided a EUR 1 million fine. Bosch and NGK received significant reductions in their fines as reward for their cooperation with the Commission and benefitted from an additional 10% discount for acknowledging their participation in the infringement, as per the Commission’s 2008 Settlement Notice.

Finally, in the braking systems sector the Commission unveiled two separate cartels related to: (i) hydraulic braking systems (which participants were TRW, Bosch and Continental) and (ii) electronic braking systems (which participants were Bosch and Continental). In both cartels, commercially sensitive information was exchanged via bilateral meetings or phone conversations. The first cartel lasted between 2007 and 2001 and the second one started in 2010 and ended in 2011. As in the previous cases, the investigation concerning the first cartel started after TRW filed for immunity. This allowed TRW to avoid a fine totalling EUR 54 million. Continental and Bosch benefited from reductions on their fines for cooperating with the Commission and got an extra discount of 10% under the Commission’s 2008 Settlement Notice for the acknowledgement of their participation in the infringement.

Continental filed for immunity in the second cartel and avoided a EUR 22 million fine, while Bosch’s fine was reduced for its cooperation and acknowledgement of the conduct in accordance to the Commission’s 2008 Settlement Notice.