On 22 July 2009 the European Commission (Commission) fined nine companies over €61 million for operating a price-fixing and market-sharing cartel in the markets for calcium carbide and magnesium granulates. Keeping prices artificially high has serious implications for European steel, as the affected products are used to improve the quality of steel during production. According to the Commission, from 2004 to 2007, Akzo Nobel (Akzo), Almamet, Donau Chemie, Ecka Granulate, Novácke Chemické Závody (NCZ), SKW Stahl-Metallurgie, Evonik Degussa (Evonik) and TDR Metalurgija created a market-sharing table called ‘The Bible’. The Bible was then used as a template for other cartels within the chemical industry. NCZ endured the highest fine at €19 million. The Commission recalculated Akzo’s fine by an additional 100% and Evonik’s fine by 50%, as they were recidivists. However, Akzo received full immunity as it blew the whistle on this cartel.

Donau Chemie’s fine was reduced by 35% and Evonik’s by 20% as a result of their co-operation following the Commission's dawn raids in 2007.

Adjustments to fines

  • Leniency applicants, or "whistle-blowers", who provide information on a cartel, can obtain reductions or immunity from fines.
  • Companies can also obtain a reduction to their fines, if they co-operate with the Commission's investigation.
  • In contrast, cartel "recidivists", or repeat offenders, could have their fines increased.