Lorry manufacturers handed record EU fine over price fixing
The European Union has imposed its biggest ever cartel fine, worth 2.93 billion euros (£2.46 billion), on several of Europe's top lorry producers for colluding to keep prices artificially high at the expense of consumers.
EU Antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said EU-based MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF "colluded on the pricing and on passing on the costs for meeting environmental standards to customers".
Germany's Daimler received the biggest fine of 1 billion euros (£840 million), followed by 752 million euros (£631 million) for DAF of the Netherlands, 670 million euros (£563 million) for Volvo/Renault and 494 million euros (£415 million) for Iveco of Italy.
MAN escaped a 1.2 billion euro (£1 billion) fine for revealing the cartel, granting it full immunity. "It pays off to denounce a cartel and end your participation," said Ms Vestager, adding: "This cartel concerns a very important part of our economy."
Together the targeted companies account for 90% of all medium and heavy goods vehicles produced in Europe.
Ms Vestager said the cartel was set up during a meeting of high officials "in a cosy hotel" in Brussels in 1997 and continued for 14 years.
Halfway through that time period, lower-level officials took over the cartel's organisation through subsidiary companies, often through email exchange.
Before Tuesday's fine, the previous record was from 2012, when seven companies were fined 1.47 billion euros (£1.23 billion) for rigging the market of television and computer monitor tubes.
The lorry companies now have three months to pay the fines, which will go into EU coffers and help alleviate contributions of member nations to the EU budget.
Ms Vestager said that one other producer, Scania, was not covered in Wednesday's decision and an investigation continues.