In December 2002, the Commission fined seven companies for a total of €60,600,000 for participating in two price-fixing cartels in the market for speciality graphite, which is used to make industrial tools for the automobile, electronics, and other industries.
In its judgment of 15 June 2005 (T-71/03, T-74/03, T-87/03 and T-91/03), the Court of First Instance confirmed the Commission’s decision, whilst limiting the joint and several liability of Intech EDM AG, and reducing the fine imposed on SGL Carbon AG on account of the infringement committed in the isostatic graphite market to €9,641,970. This latter reduction was due, on the one hand, to a finding that the Commission had not correctly determined the basic amount of the fine when using turnover figures supplied by SGL, which included other products than iostatic graphite. On the other hand, the 50% increase of the fine for SGL’s role as ringleader was reduced to a 35% increase, as the CFI found SGL’s role not to be easily distinguishable from the role of other cartel members.
In August 2005, SGL filed an appeal against the judgment of the Court of First Instance. SGL claimed, in particular, that when setting the fine with regard to the violation of EC competition rules, the Commission should have taken into account the fines already imposed in the US in relation to SGL's cartel behaviour, in application of the general principle that nobody can be sentenced twice for the same offence (the "ne bis in idem" principle). In its judgment, the Court of Justice rejects all the arguments of SGL and dismisses the appeal in its entirety.
Speciality graphites are a group of graphite products for diverse applications. Isostatic graphite (produced through isostatic moulding), is used in EDM electrodes, continuous casting dies, hot press moulds and semiconductor applications; extruded graphite (produced through extrusion), is used in electrolytic anodes and cathodes, boats, sintering trays, crucibles. During the infringement period, the companies concerned accounted for most of the EEA-wide market for both products. [10 May 2007]