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EC fines car safety equipment suppliers 368 million euros in cartel settlement

Staff Writer | March 5, 2019
The European Commission has fined Autoliv and TRW a total of 368,277,000 euros for breaching EU antitrust rules.
Europe   The companies took part in two cartels for the supply of car seatbelts
Takata was not fined as it revealed the cartels to the Commission.

The companies took part in two cartels for the supply of car seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels to European car producers. All three suppliers acknowledged their involvement in the cartels and agreed to settle the case.

The three car equipment suppliers addressed in this decision exchanged commercially sensitive information and coordinated their market behaviour for the supply of seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels to the Volkswagen Group and the BMW Group.

The coordination to form and run the cartel took place mainly through meetings at the suppliers' business premises but also in restaurants and hotels, as well as through phone calls and e-mail exchanges.

The cartel is likely to have had a significant effect on European customers, since the customers affected by the cartel, the Volkswagen Group and the BMW Group sell around three of every ten cars bought in Europe.

The Commission's investigation revealed the existence of two separate infringements.

Takata received full immunity for revealing the two cartels (thereby avoiding an aggregate fine of ca. € 195 million).

Autoliv and TRW benefited from reductions of their fines for their cooperation with the Commission investigation. The reductions reflect the timing of their cooperation and the extent to which the evidence they provided helped the Commission to prove the existence of the cartels in which they were involved.

In addition, the Commission applied a reduction of 10% to the fines imposed on the companies in view of their acknowledgment of the participation in the cartel and of the liability in this respect.