(CN) – Europe’s second-highest court slashed a cartel fine for German company ThyssenKrupp, finding the European Commission hadn’t established repeat violations.
The commission fined four groups of companies, including ThyssenKrupp, a then-record $1.4 million in February 2007 for running an elevator cartel in four central European countries.
The ThyssenKrupp, Otis, Kone and Schindler groups of companies apparently conspired to share markets, coordinate contract bidding and exchange information on installation and maintenance of elevators in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands from 1995 to 2004.
The commission added an extra 50 percent to ThyssenKrupp’s fine, saying it was a repeat offender since its subsidiaries were found to have also participated in an alloy surcharge cartel.
But the General Court of the European Union disagreed, ruling that since the commission hadn’t previously fined the parent company, this couldn’t be considered a repeat offense.
The Luxembourg-based court reduced ThyssenKrupp’s fine by $225 million, or 33 percent. It dismissed actions to reduce fines by the Otis, Kone and Schindler groups; they may still appeal to a higher court.
The European Commission welcomed the judgments on the elevator cartel, saying they “largely upheld” its policies on cartel fines.
The court in the past has found that parent firms are principally responsible for actions of their derivative companies. The ruling was the General Court’s third in a row reducing fines the commission imposed for cartels.
The court the same week annulled fines for Mitsubishi and Toshiba on a gas-insulated switchgear cartel, as well as partially voiding a decision on a synthetic rubber cartel involving Dow Chemical.