French Company Off the Hook for $33M Cartel Fine

     (CN) – Europe’s highest court overturned a nearly $33 million judgment against French company Bolloré for a subsidiary’s participation in a carbonless copy paper cartel. The European Court of Justice said the parent company hadn’t been given a proper chance to defend itself.

     The ruling released Bolloré Group from the judgment for the actions of its wholly-owned subsidiary Copigraph, which allegedly took part in the carbonless paper cartel.
     Like carbon paper, carbonless paper is used to make copies without the aid of machines. Writing on carbonless paper causes tiny capsules of dye to break and brand the page underneath with the same marks.
     In 2001, the European Commission fined 10 companies a total of about $447 million for allegedly scheming to fix prices and share markets in the carbonless paper sector. In 2007, the Court of First Instance upheld the fines, although it reduced the amount for two companies.
     Three companies, including Bolloré, appealed the decision to the Court of Justice, which determined that Bolloré was not directly responsible for involvement in the cartel. The higher court determined that the Court of First Instance did not clearly notify Bolloré of its intention to hold it responsible for the actions of its subsidiary.
     The Court of Justice upheld fines of $47 million against Germany’s Papierfabrik August Koehler AG and $2.5 million against Spain’s Distribuidora Vizcaina de Papeles S.L.

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