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EU Levies $181 Million Fine for Fixing Prices of Automotive Wire Harnesses

Thursday, July 11, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The European Commission announced this week that it has fined five auto parts suppliers a total of $181 million (€141.8 million) for operating five cartels that coordinated the prices and allocation of wire harnesses to major automakers. Wire harnesses conduct electricity in cars; e.g., to start the motor, open the window or operate the air conditioner.

According to the Commission, one of the suppliers was not fined because of its role in revealing the existence of the cartels. The remaining companies received fines that were reduced by 20-50% for their cooperation in the investigation. In addition, since these companies agreed to settle the case (meaning they acknowledged their participation in the infringing conduct and their liability for it), their fines were further reduced by 10%.

The Commission is also conducting antitrust investigations in other areas of the auto parts sector, including occupant safety systems, bearings, thermal systems and lighting. The U.S. is conducting similar investigations and has thus far charged six companies and ten individuals, with a total of more than $750 million in criminal fines assessed and individual prison terms of up to two years.

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