Fine for price fixing among international movers
"Customers of international moving companies have been led down the garden path for almost 20 years"26 March 2008
BRUSSEL – The European Commission has imposed fines totalling EUR 32.8 million on ten international moving companies that made pricing agreements for almost 19 years for moves to and from Belgium.
The participants in the cartel were Allied Arthur Pierre, Compas, Coppens, Gosselin, Interdean, Mozer, Putters, Team Relocations, Transworld and Ziegler. The companies made pricing agreements and divided the market up amongst each other. They also manipulated tendering procedures, submitted false quotations to customers, and compensated each other for orders they failed to land by granting them "commissions."
These commissions were a hidden cost in the final price charged to consumers. These agreements violated article 81 of the EU Treaty, which emphatically prohibits cartels.
The cartel was active from October 1984 to September 2003. The market was therefore manipulated for almost 19 years. In 2003 the European Commission caught wind of the practices and launched an investigation.
Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes announced on Tuesday that the cartel had been rounded up. "Customers of international moving companies have been led down the garden path for almost 20 years," Kroes said.
The heaviest fines were imposed on Ziegler. The company must pay a fine of EUR 9.2 million. Exel Investments, the former parent company of Allied Arthur Pierre, will also be forced to pay out a great deal: EUR 8.9 million. Allied Arthur Pierre itself is being shown some clemency for cooperating with the Commission's investigation, but will still have to fork over EUR 2.6 million. The fine imposed on Interdean comes to EUR 3.185 million, despite a reduction of 70 percent because of the 'particular circumstances' of the company.
Four companies say they are unable to pay the fine. But the Commission sees this as no reason to lower the amount. "These kinds of practices are very serious violations of the anti-trust regulations of the EU Treaty," an announcement read.
[Copyright Expatica News 2008]