Chloroprene cartel clobbered

The European Commission has imposed over €243m in fines on Denka, DuPont, Dow, ENI and Tosoh for participating in a cartel for chloroprene rubber.


The European Commission has imposed over €243m in fines on Denka, DuPont, Dow, ENI and Tosoh for participating in a cartel for chloroprene rubber in Europe.


Between 1993 and 2002, the Commission said that the companies shared the market and fixed prices for chloroprene rubber, which is used in a range of industrial products, as latex for the production of diving equipment, condoms and the inner soles of shoes.


For their troubles, the European antitrust regulator fined Eni €132.2m, DuPont and Dow a combined €59.3m, Japan’s Denki Kagaku Kogyo €47m and Japan’s Tosoh €4.8m.


ENI’s fine was increased by 60 per cent, as it had been fined previously for similar behaviour.


German chemical giant Bayer would also have been fined had it not blown the whislte on the cartel, a move for which it received full immunity.


The Commission investigation started with surprise inspections in March and July 2003, prompted by an application for immunity lodged by Bayer.


‘It is particularly disappointing that the rubber industry has still not learned its lessons about avoiding cartels. I find it very difficult to understand how shareholders and board members can tolerate such illegal behaviour,’ said Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes.