Monday 24 April 2017

EU regulators hit truckmakers with record fines for price fixing

Volkwagen’s MAN escaped penalty from the European Union regulators after blowing the whistle on the collusion. Photo: Bloomberg
Volkwagen’s MAN escaped penalty from the European Union regulators after blowing the whistle on the collusion. Photo: Bloomberg

Foo Yun Chee and Laurence Frost

European Union regulators imposed a record fine of €2.9bn against Europe's biggest truckmakers yesterday for colluding over 14 years to fix prices and delay adoption of cleaner engine emissions technology.

Volkswagen's MAN, Daimler, Volvo, Iveco and DAF participated in an illegal cartel until 2011, the European Commission said. It launched its investigation that year after MAN blew the whistle, thereby escaping any penalty.

Like the VW diesel scandal it predates, the truckmakers' case exposed an industry conspiracy to reduce the cost of meeting restrictions on toxic nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, with Germany once again at its heart.

The collusion, initiated by senior executives meeting at hotels and trade shows, was later delegated down the chain of command to be "organised at a lower level by the truck producers' subsidiaries in Germany", the European Commission said after a five-year investigation.

Daimler was fined €1bn, the biggest penalty, followed by €753m for DAF, €670m for Volvo and €495m for Iveco, which at the time was part of Fiat. The companies have already taken accounting charges roughly matching the sanctions.

Truckmakers fixed vehicle prices to pass the costs of required improvements on to customers, shielding their profits, the investigation found.

The combined fine of €2.9bn was more than twice the previous EU record - a €1.4bn penalty imposed in 2012 against TV and monitor parts cartel.

"Today's decision underlines the importance of a functioning competitive market to foster the development and dissemination of cost-efficient low-emission technologies," the Commission said. The news sent truckmakers' stocks lower. Daimler shares were down 1.6pc by the afternoon in London, and Iveco parent CNH was 1.1pc lower. Volvo was up 2.4pc.

All five truckmakers admitted wrongdoing in return for reduced fines, the Commission said. (Reuters).

Irish Independent

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