Brussels -- The European Commission has fined five petrochemical companies â‚¬519 million for their involvement in a synthetic rubber price-fixing scheme from 1996-2002.
ItalyÂ´s Eni SpA received the biggest fine, â‚¬272.25 million, followed by Royal Dutch Shell PLC, â‚¬160.9 million; Dow Chemical Co., â‚¬64.6 million; the Czech RepublicÂ´s Unipetrol AS â‚¬17.55 million; and PolandÂ´s Trade-Stomil Sp z.o.o, â‚¬3.8 million. The polymers in question were butadiene rubber (BR) and SBR.
GermanyÂ´s Bayer AG, the world's largest SR product 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 â‚¬204 million. Bayer since has spun off its SR activities into Lanxess AG.
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.
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Press release from EU