EU FINES CAR ELECTRICAL COMPONENT MANUFACTURERS

On 10 July 2013, the EUThe European flag flies outside of the La Canada shopping centre in Marbella, southern Spain Competition Commission fined four wire harness suppliers a total of EU141.8 million for taking part in cartels that covered the whole European Economic Area (EEA) and affected four major car companies; Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Renault.

The investigation covered five cartels which operated between 2000 and 2009. They involved bid-rigging to coordinate both price and allocation of supplies of wire harnesses, which link together a car’s electrical components.

The largest fine of EUR125 million (over 85% of the total) was handed to Yasaki, the world’s largest maker of wire harnessing systems. The other companies fined were Furukawa, S-Y Systems Technologies and Leoni. The fines were set on the basis of the Commissions’ 2006 Guidelines on fines, taking into account the companies’ EEA sales of the products involved, the very serious nature of the infringement, the cartels geographic scope and their duration.

However, Sumitomo Electric, which was involved in all five cartels, will not have to pay any of its EUR291 million fine because it alerted regulators to the anti-competitive behaviour and as a result benefited from full immunity under the Commission’s 2006 Leniency Notice. The remaining companies received between 20 and 50% reductions under the leniency programme due to their full cooperation with the investigation. They received a further 10% reduction under the settlement procedure for cartels (see the Commission’s 2008 Settlement Notice) which requires companies to acknowledge both their infringement and liability in exchange for an additional discount.

The investigation started with inspections in 2010 and proceedings were opened in August 2012. It has taken just 8 months since settlement discussions started with the companies for the investigation to reach its conclusion. The immunity granted to Sumitomo Electric, which would otherwise have faced a fine twice as large as the total imposed on the other four companies, as well as the substantial reductions that the other participants in the cartels received, serves as a good example of the benefits of cooperation, and in particular of being the first to alert authorities in order to take advantage of antitrust leniency programmes.

This entry was posted in Europe, Leniency and tagged by Jasvinder Nakhwal. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jasvinder Nakhwal

Jasvinder Nakhwal is a partner specialising in all aspects of business crime, in particular criminal cartel investigations, mutual legal assistance and extradition. Chambers UK 2013 quoted that "Jasvinder Nakhwal continues to impress clients with her extensive experience in cartel defence work"... and has a "thriving extradition practice". Jasvinder trained with Peters & Peters and qualified in 2002 as an Associate. She became a Partner in 2010, in the Business Crime team. Jasvinder has in-depth experience in advising both corporate and individual clients in fraud-related matters, with a firmly-established expertise in respect of criminal cartels, extradition, mutual legal assistance and corruption matters. Many of her cases have a strong international element. Jasvinder has acted for clients who simultaneously face investigation by the European Commission, the US Department of Justice, the Canadian Competition Commission and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. She also advises in respect of cash seizure and forfeiture cases brought under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, and has acted in cases involving allegations of corruption, money laundering, tax and duty evasion in professional disciplinary matters and in inquests and independent inquiries. Jasvinder is a regular speaker on her areas of expertise.

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