Brussels (AFP) – The EU slapped a huge fine of 880 million euros ($1.0 billion) on European truckmaker Scania on Wednesday, accusing the firm of colluding to fix prices and dodge the costs of stricter pollution rules.
Scania, owned by German auto giant Volkswagen, was the only holdout in the European Union’s massive cartel case in which five other truck builders admitted to the wrongdoing and jointly received a record fine of three billion euros.
“Today’s decision marks the end of our investigation into a very long lasting cartel — 14 years,” European Commission competition chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement
Daimler, DAF, Iveco, MAN and Volvo/Renault were hit with the fines in July 2016. Along with Scania, they account for nine out of every 10 trucks sold in Europe.
With the latest fine, the total penalty inflicted by Brussels hit 3.8 billion euros ($4 billion), said the European Commission, the EU’s antitrust regulator.
“Instead of colluding on pricing, the truck manufacturers should have been competing against each other — also on environmental improvements,” said Vestager.
Senior managers from Daimler, DAF, Iveco, MAN and Volvo/Renault hatched the plan at a secret meeting in a “cosy” Brussels hotel, the commission said.
Germany’s MAN tipped off the European Commission about the collusion at the highest level, triggering an investigation that began with raids on large truck manufacturers in 2011.
The charge sheet includes accusations of price-fixing, but also alleges the existence of a secret agreement by the companies to delay and then pass on the costs of anti-pollution technology to consumers.
This accusation is particularly embarrassing in the wake of revelations last year of pollution test cheating by Volkswagen that has rocked the auto industry. The commission said its investigation found no connection to the Volkswagen cartel.