The European Commission has continued its fight against collusion by imposing hefty fines on a number of European and Japanese producers of automotive bearings. The firms stood accused of long-term price coordination.
The EU executive announced Wednesday it had found two European and four Japanese companies guilty of operating a cartel in the market for automotive bearings. These parts are used in cars and trucks to reduce friction between moving parts inside a vehicle.
The Commission imposed a total fine of some 953 million euros (1.33 billion), with Germany's Schaeffler having to pay the lion's share of 370.5 billion euros despite receiving reductions for its cooperation in the investigation.
Japanese company JTEKT was not fined at all as it benefited from immunity under the Commission's Leniency Notes for revealing the existence of the cartel.
More probes underway
The EU executive had found that the firms in question had engaged in secret price fixing for more than seven years in a row, notably between April 2004 and July 2011.
"Today's decision is a further milestone in the Commission's effort to bust cartels in the market for car parts, after sanctions we imposed on producers of electric wires and industrial foam used in car seats," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement.
"I hope the fines will deter companies from engaging in such illegal behavior and help restore competition in this industry," he added.
The EU executive is also investigating more products such as airbags, safety belts and steering wheels.
hg/kms (dpa, Reuters, AFP)