04 July 2011 17:16 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--The European Commission has scrapped multi-million euro cartel fines against Elementis and Ciba because legal time limits had expired when they were imposed, it said on Monday.
UK-based Elementis was fined €32.6m and Ciba - now part of Germany-based chemicals major BASF - €68.4m ($99.1m) in November 2009 for their part in a plastics additives cartel involving several other chemicals firms.
The cartel ran between 1987 and 2000 but Elementis and Ciba had only taken part in it up to 1998, therefore a 10-year limit to impose fines had expired.
“As a result of today's decision, Ciba/BASF and Elementis will have to pay no fine for their participation in the heat stabilisers cartel,” the Commission said in a statement.
The decision to cancel the fines came after a judgment in an unrelated case at the Court of Justice which clarified the legal rules on time limitations.
The fines still stand for nine other companies involved in the cartel, the Commission added. These include Akzo - now AkzoNobel - and Arkema France.
"The repeal of the decision confirms the Elementis position that the Commission's decision against Elementis had no legal basis," Elementis said in a statement.
In the original ruling on 11 November 2009, the Commission said the companies had fixed prices, shared customers, allocated markets and exchanged sensitive commercial information for tin and heat stabilisers that are added to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) products.
The cartel members were fined a total of €173m.
($1 = €0.69)
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