EU Court Clears $145M in Fines Over Copper Cartel

     (CN) – Europe’s second-highest court corrected the distribution of $443 million in fines levied against participants in a copper-fittings cartel.

     The European Commission in 2006 fined 30 European companies about $443 million for fixing prices, sharing information, allocating markets and other anticompetitive practices between 1988 and 2004.
     The General Court of the European Union considered several companies’ appeals of the fines. For six companies, including France-based Legris Industries and Italian firm Frabo, the court upheld $236 million in fines.
     But the court struck fines for three companies, including the largest single fine, $142 million against Dutch firm Aalberts. Almost $3 million in penalties were also struck against two companies Aalberts later acquired.
     The Luxembourg-based court decided that the European Commission erred in finding Aalberts had participated in the cartel at all.
     The General Court also trimmed penalties for five companies, including for Canadian-owned Tompkins industrial group and German company Kaimer, finding that the companies participated in the cartel for a shorter time period than the European Commission had said.
     The decision could still be appealed to the Court of Justice, Europe’s highest legal authority.

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