Brussels fines Catalan group Roca around 39 million euros for breaking competition law

Catalan sanitary company Roca has been fined 38.7 million euros for participating in a cartel (agreeing on prices competitors) with 16 other sanitary companies for over 12 years. Masco informed the European Commission of the covert operation.

CNA / Raquel Correa

June 23, 2010 11:46 PM

Brussels (CNA).- The European Commission is fining the Catalan company Roca around 39 million euros for having fixed prices with 16 other competitors in the bathroom-making business. European Comissioner for Competition Joaquín Almunia announced on Wednesday that Roca has been part of a cartel of sanitary companies for 12 years which has affected 6 Member States (Germany, Austria, Italy, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands). “The negative consequences of the cartel can go beyond the participating countries’ established borders”, said Almunia, explaining that Roca has been fined for their trade with Austria and France.
The cartel which was uncovered by the European Comission has affected 17 manufacturers of baths and showers, among them being the companies of Ideal Standard and Villeroy & Boch. The North American company Ideal Standard has been fined over 326 million euros, while the German company Villeroy & Bach occupies the 2nd highest fine at 71.5 million euros. The Catalan company Roca, with a sanction of 38.7 million euros for having participated in the cartel through two of its subsidaries, occupied the fifth highest fine of the total amount, which is over 622 million euros in fines.

The North American company Masco, on the other hand, has benefited from the mass fines for they are the ones that informed the European Comission of the cartel that existed between 1992 and 2004 and has affected 240 million European citizens. The cartel created unfair competition for several other construction and sanitary companies. Five of the companies’ fines have been reduced due to their inability to pay them. “We want to fight the cartels, not to send them into bankruptcy in a time of crisis,” explained Almunia. “A very organised cartel…that secretly agreed on minimum prices and coordinated the rise of annual prices”, is how Almunia described the multinationals involved.