The European Commission has announced it has slapped hefty fines on a number of companies involved in collusion in the European shrimp trade. The executive said the cartel controlled 80 percent of the regional market.
The European Union hit selected shrimp traders in the Netherlands and Germany with a fine of some 29 million euros ($39 million) Wednesday on charges of collusion with a view to artificially pushing up prices.
Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia spoke of distortion of business realities in a market valued at at least 100 million euros.
"This cartel undermined competitionin the market for North Sea shrimps for several years, a market important for consumers in many European countries," Almunia said in a statement.
Fishing for better prices
Brussels said Dutch company Heiploeg faced the lion's share of the fine at 27 million euros. Germany's Stührk would have to pay 1.1 million euros, with the Netherland's Kok Seafood having to part with 502,000 euros.
Another Dutch company involved in the price fixing was Dutch firm Klaas Puul, but the latter saw its fine waived as it had blown the whistle on the cartel operating in Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands between 2000 and 2009.
"It's astonishing to see in what kind of detail North Sea shrimps traders in their frequent contacts with each other discussed commercially sensitive information concerning their business," the European Commissionnoted.
hg/mz (dpa, AFP)