EU Court Upholds Fines Against Plasterboard Cartel For Walling Up Competition
Europe’s highest court, the EU Court of Justice (ECJ), has upheld a fine of 85.8 million euros (approximately $100 million) against the German company Knauf Gips KG for participating in a plasterboard price-fixing cartel.
The cartel consisted of Knauf Gips KG, France’s Lafarge SA, Britain’s BPB Plc, and Belgium’s Gyproc Benelux. The decision upholds part of the European Commission’s November 27, 2002, total fine of 478.32 million euros (approximately $605 million) imposed on the four companies.
The fines stem from the cartel’s price-fixing of plasterboard for builders in Germany, Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg between 1992 and 1998. The Commission found that the companies implemented their cartel through a clandestine system that exchanged information and monitored the market to avoid competition.
A few weeks ago, on June 17, 2010, the ECJ upheld a fine of 249.6 million euros (approximately $300 million) against Lafarge for its role in the cartel. As part of that decision, the ECJ found that the Commission had correctly doubled the fine against Lafarge based on Lafarge’s prior infringement of competition laws.