On November 11, 2009 the EC imposed a total of €173,860,400 in fines for violating Article 81 of the EC Treaty, which bans cartels and restrictive business practices (now Article 101 TFEU) on 24 entities from the following 10 parent companies: Akzo, Baerlocher, Ciba, Elementis, Elf Aquitaine (Arkema France), GEA, Chemson, Faci, Reagens and AC Treuhand. The Commission found that these entities fixed prices, shared customers, allocated markets and exchanged sensitive commercial information in the EEA for tin stabilizers between 1987 and 2000 and for ESBO/esters between 1991 and 2000. These products are used in packaging, credit cards, bottles and coatings as heat stabilizers.
The EC began investigating the cartels in February 2003 following an immunity application filed by Chemtura Corporation, which had participated in the cartels. Chemtura avoided fines for revealing the cartels and for cooperating in the investigation. The EC reduced the fines of three other companies – Arkema France, Baerlocher and Ciba – for their cooperation in the investigation. Arkema France, however, had its fine increased by 90 percent due to prior cartel violations (i.e., for participating in the PVC, polypropylen and peroxygen products cartels). The EC expressed that “companies must learn the hard way that breaking the law does not pay and that repeat offenders will face stiffer penalties.”