ETHYLENE
EU commission fines Celanese, Clariant and Orbia / Companies implicated in illegal C2 purchasing scheme
The European Commission has handed out fines totalling EUR 260m to three chemicals and plastics producers including Celanese (Dallas, Texas / USA; www.celanese.com), Clariant (Muttenz / Switzerland; www.clariant.com) and Orbia (Tlalnepantla / Mexico; www.orbia.com) for participating in an illegal ethylene purchasing scheme (see Plasteurope.com of 27.07.2017). The EU competition authority said the practice lasted from December 2011 to March 2017 and covered member states Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Orbia (formerly Mexichem) received the lowest fine, of EUR 22.3m, with Clariant ordered to pay EUR 155.77m and Celanese EUR 82.31m.

Under the arrangement that the commission’s executive vice president Margrethe Vestager said was tantamount to price fixing, the companies were accused of coordinating their price negotiation strategy vis a vis ethylene sellers to influence the contract price to their advantage and also exchanged price-related information. This breached EU antitrust rules prohibiting cartels and restrictive business practices. Westlake (Houston, Texas / USA; www.westlake.com) was also a participant but as whistle blower received full immunity, thus escaping a potential penalty of EUR 190m. The EU authority said this was the first purchasing horizontal cartel to be detected in the chemical industry under its 2006 fines guidelines.

All four companies acknowledged their involvement and saw their fines reduced for cooperating with the investigation. Due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and potential short-term liquidity issues, the commission extended the date for paying the fines from three months to six months from the date of notification. In accordance with EU rules, the fines will flow into the general budget.

In a statement, Clariant apologised for its participation, saying it “deeply regrets” the violation and is “disappointed that its strong culture of compliance, based on a clear code of conduct and an antitrust compliance programme including a multitude of tailored antitrust trainings, was not upheld.” The speciality chemicals group blamed the violation on “a single former employee.”
17.07.2020 Plasteurope.com [245549-0]
Published on 17.07.2020
Ethylen: EU-Kommission verhängt Strafe gegen KäuferkartellGerman version of this article...

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Date of print: 21.10.2020 23:30:19   (Ref: 10256097)
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