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EU Court Upholds $100M in Fines for Carbon Cartel

(CN) - Europe's high court upheld fines of more than $100 million against two companies that participated in a carbon and graphite products cartel.

The European Commission imposed the fines on Carbone Lorraine, SGL Carbon and three other German companies in 2003 for a cartel that from 1988 to 1999 fixed prices, trading conditions and market allocation for the products.

Electrical and mechanical carbon and graphite transfer electricity to and within electrical motors and are used in electric car windows and subways, among other products.

French company Carbone Lorraine and German company SGL Carbon in 2008 appealed their respective fines of $65 million and $36 million to the Court of First Instance, which upheld the commission's decision.

The Court of Justice, the end of the line for legal disputes in the European Union, affirmed the lower court's decision, saying it adequately considered individual offenders' roles and the gravity of the cartel's impact. The lower court sufficiently evaluated economic differences between the companies in reducing the fines and fairly divided cartel offenders into three categories with fixed-rate fines, the high court ruled.

The Court of Justice refused to consider SGL's challenge to the inclusion of internal expenses in appraising their economic situation, concluding that this should have been done in the company's first appeal.

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