The Commission initiated an investigation into an alleged cartel in the steel abrasives sector in 2010. Steel abrasives are used in the steel, automotive, metallurgy and petrochemicals industries for the cleaning or enhancing of metal services. It can also be used for cutting hard stones (granite and marble).
In June 2010, the Commission organized dawn raids on several companies active in this sector. Following its preliminary investigation, the Commission announced in April 2014 that it had concluded a settlement with four companies: Ervin, Winoa, Metalltechnik Schmidt and Eisenwerk Würth. Such a settlement procedure is conditional on admission by the companies at stake of their involvement in the cartel and allows quicker resolution of the case and a reduction of the fine by 10%. In this case, the concerned companies agreed to pay a total fine of EUR 30,707,000.
On 4 December 2014, the European Commission sent a statement of objections to Pometon for its suspected participation in this cartel, as this company had not participated in the settlement procedure.
The Commission suspects that Pometon coordinated a key price component of steel abrasives, which is the scrap surcharge. This coordination led to a distortion of the whole EEA market. Pometon might also have agreed with other companies not to compete on prices with respect to individual customers.
Following the statement of objections, Pometon will have the opportunity to submit its written answer and to request an oral hearing to present its defence before the Commission.
If the Commission concludes that Pometon has indeed participated in such an illegal cartel, it may impose a fine of up to 10% of the company’s annual worldwide turnover.