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EU Court confirms EUR 60m phosphates cartel fine

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EU Court confirms EUR 60m phosphates cartel fine

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(LUXEMBOURG) - The EU Court of Justice confirmed Thursday a European Commission fine of nearly EUR 60 million imposed on the Roullier group for sharing the phosphate market for animal feed for more than 30 years.

The Commission had imposed fines In 2010 amounting to EUR 175 million on six groups of producers who had participated in a price-fixing cartel and shared the phosphate market for animal feed for more than 30 years. The group had shared sales quotas by region and by customer, coordinated prices and even, in some cases, the conditions of sale.

Timab and its parent company CFPR of the Roullier Group were held jointly and severally liable for a fine of EUR 59 million for their participation in the Animal Feed Phosphates cartel for over ten years.

However, unlike the other groups involved in the cartel, the Roullier group refused to settle with the Commission after it became aware of the approximate amount of the fine the EU executive intended to impose on it.

The Court's judgement addresses in particular the issue of these so-called 'hybrid' cases, where some parties settle and others don't.

The highest EU court rejected Timab's claim that the Commission had punished the company for not settling and confirmed that Timab had suffered no discrimination for not settling the case.

Through the cartel settlement procedure, the Commission benefits from a shorter, more efficient administrative process. If not all parties wish to settle, the Commission can decide to run the settlement and the standard procedure in the same cartel investigation.

The EU Court of Justice's ruling fully upholds the Commission's findings and the fine of EUR 59.85 million imposed jointly and severally on Timab and its parent company CFPR of the Roullier Group. It confirms that the fine imposed on Timab reflected the gravity and duration of the infringement and was an accurate application of the rules concerning the calculation of fines.

In doing so, the Court confirmed the Commission's approach to take into account new information in the course of the standard procedure. It held in particular that the Commission can depart from ranges of fines discussed during settlement talks for a company that in the end choose not to settle. In such cases, the Commission is bound to make its assessment and fines calculation on the basis of all relevant elements present at the time of the final decision.

Judgement of the Court of Justice in Case C-411/15 P - Timab Industries and CFPR v Commission


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