Commenting on the latest cartel decision, Competition commissioner Almunia said “[I]t is amazing how such a significant number of companies abused nearly the entire European construction market for such a long time and for such a vital product.” This statement was made on 4 April 2011 when the Commission imposed a fine of over €269m on 17 prestressing steel producers for participation in a price-fixing and market sharing cartel. The cartel lasted from January 1984 to September 2002 and encompassed all Member States within the EU at that time with the exception of the UK, Ireland and Greece. Norway was also affected. The cartel came to an end after one member, DWK/Saarstahl, gave evidence to the Commission under the EU Leniency Programme. As a result, the Commission carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of a number of suspected cartel members. Over the 18 years, the members of the cartel met in the margins of official trade meetings in hotels all over Europe and fixed individual quotas and prices, allocated clients and exchanged sensitive commercial information. Prices, clients and quota arrangements were also monitored through a system of national coordinators and bilateral contacts.