The EU executive arm has slapped a $150 million fine on two Japanese car part producers for running a cartel to fix prices for alternators and starters for over half a decade.
Three firms ran the cartel, Mitsubishi Electric (Melco), Hitachi and Denso, but Denso was not fined as it exposed the anti-competitive activity.
All three companies coordinated prices and allocated customers or projects for more than five years, the European Commission said.
“Although contacts associated with forming and running the cartel took place outside the European Economic Area (EEA), the cartel affected European customers as alternators and starters were also sold directly to car manufacturers in the EEA,” the EC added.
Melco will have to pay the biggest fine of 110.9 million euros, with Hitachi having to give 26.9 million euros. Denso, was not fined since it blew the whistle on the case to the EU’s antitrust office.
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the three companies held meetings at each other’s offices and in restaurants to change the prices for consumers and put a brake on competition among the producers. And although the conspiracy took place outside of the 28-nation EU, her office would still pursue the case because EU consumers were also affected by artificially high prices.