BRUSSELS (Nov. 29, 2006) — The European Commission has fined five petrochemical companies $682 million for their involvement in a synthetic rubber price-fixing scheme from 1996-2002.
Italy's Eni S.p.A. received the biggest fine, $358 million, followed by Royal Dutch Shell P.L.C., $212 million; Dow Chemical Co., $85 million; Poland's Trade-Stomil Sp z.o.o, $23 million; and the Czech Republic's Unipetrol A.S., $5 million. The polymers in question were butadiene rubber and SBR.
Germany's Bayer A.G., the world's largest SR producer during the time of the investigation, blew the whistle on the activity in 2002 and received full immunity from EU regulators as a result, thereby avoiding a fine of up to $269 million. Bayer since has spun off its SR activities into Lanxess A.G.
The EC said it based its decision on evidence gathered from documents, corporate statements and witness interviews provided by the leniency applicants, together with meetings notes discovered by the commission during on-site inspections.
Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said if companies continue to indulge in cartel activities, even higher fines can be expected in the future.