The French Competition Council has imposed fines of €575 million on 11 steel traders for operating a price-fixing cartel between 1999 and 2004. This is the largest cartel fine ever imposed by the French regulator. Three subsidiaries of ArcelorMittal were fined a total of €301 million. Other cartel participants included German group Kloeckner and French trader Descours & Cabaud. The investigation began in 2004 after several customers complained about suspiciously similar bids received from different traders. Descours & Cabaud applied for leniency while two other parties acknowledged their involvement in the cartel in exchange for a reduction in fines.