The EC has fined seven companies a total of €328 million for participating in illegal price fixing cartels in the markets for fasteners (e.g., zips, snap buttons, rivets, etc.) and the machines that affix them to textiles. The EC alleged two distinct cartels, which affected fasteners markets in Europe and worldwide. The first cartel operated between 1991 and 2001 among YKK, Prym, Coats, Scovill, A. Raymond, Berning & Söhne, and the German trade association Fachverband Verbindungs-und Befestigungstechnik. The second cartel ran from 1999 to 2003 between Prym and YKK and their subsidiaries. The EC found that the companies coordinated prices, fixed minimum prices, allocated customers, shared markets and exchanged other commercially important and confidential information.

Under the EC leniency program, Prym received full immunity from fines for being the first to come forward with information about the cartel; reduced fines were accorded to YKK and Coats as a result of their cooperation with the EC’s investigation.