BRUSSELS—The European Union has slapped its biggest ever cartel fine, worth $3.24 billion, on several of Europe’s top truck producers for colluding to keep prices artificially high at the expense of consumers.
EU Antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said EU-based MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF “colluded on the pricing and on passing on the costs for meeting environmental standards to customers.”
Germany’s Daimler received the biggest fine of 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), followed by 752 million euros ($832 million) for DAF of the Netherlands, 670 million euros ($741 million) for Volvo/Renault and 494 million euros ($546 million) for Iveco of Italy.
MAN escaped a 1.2 billion euro ($1.33 billion) fine for revealing the cartel, granting it full immunity. “It pays off to denounce a cartel and end your participation,” said Vestager.
Together the targeted companies account for 90 per cent of all medium and heavy trucks produced in Europe. “This cartel concerns a very important part of our economy,” she said.
Vestager said the cartel was set up during a meeting of high officials “in a cozy hotel” in Brussels in 1997 and continued for 14 year. Halfway through that time period, lower-level officials took over the cartel’s organization through subsidiary companies, often through email exchange.
Before July 19’s 2.93 billion euro fine, the previous record was from 2012, when 7 companies were fined 1.47 billion euros ($1.62 billion) for rigging the market of television and computer monitor tubes.
The truck companies now have three months to pay the fines, which will go into EU coffers and help alleviate contributions of member nations to the EU budget.
Vestager said that one other producer, Scania, was not covered in Wednesday’s decision and an investigation continues.