The Germany’s competition regulator fined six of the country’s stainless steel manufacturers, a now defunct industry association and 10 individuals E205-million for price fixing and exchanging market sensitive information. “Over years, the companies agreed on important aspects of stainless steel prices,” Federal Cartel Office President Andreas Mundt said in a statement.
Voestalpine turned the dime on the industry by telling the agency about the price fixing after conducting an internal audit.
The government agency found evidence that the steel producers were exchanging information on alloy surcharges and an scrap purchases since 2004. The mills also coordinated increases in the base price of engineering steel and exchanged information about their order books, their customers’ inventories, production outages and planned price increases, the Cartel Office said.
The six companies being fined are: ArcelorMittal Commercial Long Deutschland GmbH, a German division of ArcelorMittal, Doerrenberg Edelstahl GmbH, Kind & Co. Edelstahlwerke GmbH & Co.KG, Saarstahl AG, Schmidt + Clemens GmbH + Co. KG and Zapp Precision Metals GmbH.
The Cartel Office said it was still investigating four further companies, which it did not name. It also did not name the individuals it was fining.
The industry association, Edelstahl-Vereinigung e.V., was disbanded.
Voestalpine will not face a fine because it informed the German government and employees who were involved are not longer working for the company.
In the US, the fine probably would have been higher and there would have been criminal charges.