LONDON—The Spanish National Competition Commission has imposed fines totaling more than $34 million on 10 companies and the Spanish Association of Polyurethane Foam Businesses for operating a cartel in the comfort foam manufacturing sector.
The auditor which set up the arrangement escaped prosecution.
The CNC council has ruled that there is proof of a breach of article 1 of the Spanish Competition Act and article 101 of the Treaty of Rome. which makes it illegal for companies to fix market shares and prices together.
The CNC said the cartel ran from 1992 and it was notified of the cartel by Recticel in 2010. The Spanish statute of limitations does not permit prosecution of members for actions taken before 2000.
Auditing company Coopers & Lybrand, now PWC, is named in the report as being one of the driving forces behind the cartel. The report states "controlling the distribution of production quotas was raised as a result of the initiative of the Coopers & Lybrand audit that addressed the flexible foam industry advising them to cooperate in order to limit losses."
The auditor "also coordinated the implementation of the agreement and monitoring. To this end, the company auditor appointed a manager to control the production plants of each manufacturer. He was also responsible for collecting the documents showing the constitution of the bank guarantees which were deposited with a notary public," the CNC report states.