BRUSSELS (Dec. 22)—The European Commission has fined Bayer A.G. $70 million and General Quimica $4 million for their participation in an international rubber chemicals price-fixing case but did not levy fines against Flexsys N.V. because it blew the whistle on the case originally in 2002.
The EC, which called cartels a "scourge" that will not be tolerated, also fined Chemtura Corp. $16 million in the case, bringing the total fines levied to $90 million.
These fines follow similar actions last year in the U.S. and Canada. In those cases, Bayer agreed to pay $66 million in the U.S. and Chemtura—formerly Crompton Corp.—agreed to pay fines of $50 million in the U.S. and $7 million in Canada.
The EC imposed the penalties "for operating a cartel in the rubber chemicals market, in clear violation of EC Treaty competition rules which forbid cartels and other restrictive business practices," according to the EC statement.
As noted, Flexsys was not fined, while Bayer's fine reflects a 20-percent leniency reduction for its cooperation in investigating the case. Likewise, Chemtura's fine was cut in half for its cooperation and General Quimica received a 10-percent leniency reduction.
The EU said three rubber chemicals suppliers—Flexsys, Bayer and Crompton—agreed to exchange information about prices and/or raise prices of certain rubber chemicals (antioxidants, antiozonants and primary accelerators) in the European economic area and worldwide markets at least from 1996 to 2001.
"Cartels are a scourge," said Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes. "I will ensure that cartels will continue to be tracked down, prosecuted and punished, With this latest decision, I am sending a very strong message to company boards that cartels will not be tolerated, and to shareholders that they should look carefully at how their companies are being run."