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AFX News: EU fines Shell in pricing cartel: Shell, a repeat offender, begun and led cartel

EXTRACT: Shell and KWS had their fine increased as they began and led the cartel, the commission said. Shell was fined an additional 50 pct for as it as a repeat offender, having previously been in PVC and polypropylene cartels.

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Headline: AFX News: EU fines Shell, Total, 12 others 267 mln eur in bitume pricing cartel

BRUSSELS (AFX) – The European Commission said it has fined 14 companies involved in the supply and purchase of road bitumen in the Netherlands 267 mln eur for participating in a price-fixing cartel from 1994-2002.

This is the second-highest fine ever imposed by the EU for a cartel.

‘It is very high compared to size of the market,’ said Jonathan Todd, spokesperson for EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes, adding that the size of the companies involved and the repeat offender status of Shell justified the high levels.

He added that there were ongoing investigations into similar cartels in Belgium and in Spain.

The pricing cartel violated article 81 of the EC Treaty competition ban on restrictive business practices.

The 14 companies have been fined a total of 266.7 mln eur. Bitumen suppliers BP plc, Esha, Kloeckner Bitumen, Kuwait Petroleum, Nynäs, Shell BV, Total SA and Wintershall, were all fined, as were construction companies Ballast Nedam NV, Dura Vermeer, Heijmans NV, Hollandsche Beton Groep (now part of Koninklijke BAM Groep), Koninklijke BAM Groep NV and Koninklijke Volker Wessels Stevin.

Shell and KWS had their fine increased as they began and led the cartel, the commission said.

Shell was fined an additional 50 pct for as it as a repeat offender, having previously been in PVC and polypropylene cartels. KWS was fined an extra 10 pct for refusing to give investigators access to their premises.

BP, however, was granted full immunity from what should have been a 30.78 mln fine, for cooperating. Kuwait Petroleum had a 30 pct reduction.

The commission said that between at least 1994 to 2002, the cartel fixed the gross price of all road pavement bitumen sold in the Netherlands, and agreed uniform minimum rebates for the construction companies that were cartel members, and a smaller maximum rebate for all other road builders. [email protected] fr/joy/fr/jlw

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