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Business

Record Fines for Vitamin Cartels

The European Commission on Wednesday announced a record fine of 855 million euros for eight distinct price-fixing cartels in vitamin products.

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Coming down hard on antitrust practices: Competition Commissioner Mario Monti

One and a half years after the case was opened, the European Commission slammed chemical companies with a record fine of 855 million euros for fixing the price of vitamins.

Eight cartels were named breaching anti competition laws. The two largest fines were 462 million euros for Roche and 296 million euros for BASF.

EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti accused the chemical giants of having deliberately overcharged customers buying their vitamin products. In a world wide operation, the market for vitamin A, C, D and B had apparently been rigged for years.

Not the first time

Analysts say the case is similar to a recent US antitrust investigation into the illegal practices of the vitamins industry.

Several firms were forced to pay record fines and settlements then for forcing consumers around the world to pay more for nearly everything containing vitamins.

Consequently, BASF paid 1.3 million Deutschmarks in fines and settlements for the price-fixing of vitamins in the US and Canada in 1999.

Today’s fines however, dwarf the previous record penalty of 270 million euros imposed on a shipping cartel by the EU’s Competition watch dog.