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Friday, June 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

EU Court Cuts Cartel Fine for Cooperative Player

(CN) - A European court rewarded a thread company for cooperating during a cartel investigation by reducing a nearly $1.3 million fine by another 10 percent.

An investigation revealed that six thread companies from various European countries conspired with each other in the 1990s to fix the prices for industrial threads. They met regularly, exchanged information, avoided undercutting each other and allocated customers, according to the European Commission.

The commission fined the companies in 2005. Germany-based Amann & Söhne was hit with a total penalty of around $24 million, and Gütermann, another German threads company, had to pay about $5.3 million. Other companies received smaller fines.

The thread companies asked the General Court of the European Union to annul or reduce the fines.

The General Court rejected annulment outright, but reduced Belgian Sewing Thread's fine another 10 percent based on its cooperation. Belgian's fine had already been cut 20 percent, and fines for three other companies had been reduced by 15 percent.

The court noted that Belgian Sewing Thread never contested the allegations and had provided critical evidence, and that the commission frequently referred to Belgian's documents in prosecuting the case.

Because cooperation from the other companies was comparatively "useless" to the commission, the court upped Belgian's reduction from 20 percent to 30 percent, bringing its total fine down to about $1.13 million.

The Luxembourg-based court upheld the fines for the other companies.

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