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Class Action Alleges ‘Hygiene Antitrust’

CHICAGO (CN) - A federal class-action antitrust lawsuit accuses Sara Lee, Colgate-Palmolive, Unilever, and Henkel Chemie of conspiring to fix prices for hygiene products, including toothpaste, toothbrushes, and shampoo, liquid hand soaps, dishwashing liquid and deodorants. Lead plaintiff Commercial Street Express claims the defendants have admitted collusion and anti-competitive conduct in Europe and have been fined 37 million euros in Germany alone.

Plaintiffs claim that the Federal Cartel Office of Germany announced on Feb. 20 that Henkel, Sara Lee and Unilever were fined 37 million euros "for price-fixing and illegally passing on information on price talks with retailers." Plaintiffs say the Federal Cartel Office said the conspiracy that had begun by early 2006 hiked by 5 percent the price of Pril and Palmolive dish detergents, Duschdas and Palmolive shower gels and Signal, Dentagard, and Colgate toothpaste.

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