Truck cartel to get heavy EU fine: sources

The European Commission is expected to fine six truck manufacturers this week. [Pixabay]

European Union regulators are set to inflict a record fine this week against several of Europe’s biggest truck-makers that are accused of colluding to rig higher prices, sources close
to the matter told AFP.

Volkswagen-owned MAN and Scania, as well as Daimler, DAF, Iveco and Volvo are accused by the European Commission of running a cartel from 1999 to 2011.

“The decision could land as early as Tuesday,” one source told AFP, on condition of anonymity.

A spokesman for the Commission refused to comment. If confirmed, the fine would be the second major decision this month by Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s powerful competition commissioner who last week filed new antitrust charges against US Internet giant Google.

The rap sheet against the five European companies would also counter accusations by Washington that Vestager unfairly targets US firms. The investigation is based on raids carried out on large truck manufacturers in 2011, based on a tip-off by MAN. The charge sheet includes accusations of price-fixing, but also alleges the existence of a secret agreement by the companies to delay the introduction of anti-pollution technology.

This accusation, first revealed by the Financial Times, could prove the most embarrassing in the wake of revelations last year of pollution test cheating by Volkswagen that has rocked the auto industry.

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Volvo Trucks last month increased its provision in regards to the case to a total of 650 million, in a sign that the final decision by the EU was imminent.

“The provision made … is based on the company’s best assessment of the financial impact of the investigation at the present time,” the company said on 25 June.

Daimler in 2014 already set aside 650 million in connection with the case. But MAN and Scania have not provisioned for the case and with expectations high the groups will be largely spared by the EU after providing key evidence on the cartel.

The commission’s existing record of a 1.5 billion fine dates back to 2012. Seven TV and computer screen makers, including LG Electronics and Philips, were found guilty of running a decade-long price-fixing scheme.

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