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EU Announces 546 Million Euros in Fines on Cartel-Forming Auto Part Suppliers

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Europe lately seems to be working hard to root out corrupt practices in the automotive industry, having most recently insisted that the European Union members meet its air quality regulations after switching away from the older, wildly inaccurate testing protocols. Now, though, the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, has announced that is rooting out corruption in the auto parts industry, in the form of fines on seven companies totaling 546 million euros for joining into four separate cartels to inflate prices.

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Ten companies were actually involved in the cartels, but three escaped fines by uncovering the cartels to the Commission.

The first cartel is related to car-carrying ships using special “roll-on/roll-off” ships. Five of the companies – CSAV, “K” Line, MOL, NYK, and WWL-EUKOR – coordinated prices and divided customers among the group over six years, letting them deliberately quote high prices or not even offer a quote when dealing with automakers. MOL avoided fines because it revealed the cartel.

Next up is a cartel based on spark plugs, involving Bosch, Denso, and NGK, in which they agreed to avoid each other’s normal customers and maintain the status quo. In this case, Denso revealed the cartel and was saved from fines.

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Finally, there were two cartels built on braking system parts, both hydraulic and electronic. The first of the two involved Bosch, Continental, and TRW, and the second involved just Bosch and Continental. In both, the parts suppliers exchanged confidential information, including pricing. TRW avoided fines in the former, and Continental escaped fines in the latter.

The Commission marked this decision as part of a larger effort to defend fair car and truck competition, adding, “we will be active in this area as long as we keep finding companies that hope to make higher profits by colluding instead of competing.”

News Source: European Commision