On 21 June 2017 the European Commission sanctioned car lightning system producers a total of EUR 26 744 000 for participating in a cartel. One of the cartel participants was fully immune from fines due to leniency application. All cartel participants admitted their fault and agreed to settle as a result of which their fine was reduced by 20-35%.

Following the investigation, the European Commission confirmed the existence of a cartel in the automotive sector which was run for more than three years by Automotive Lighting, Hella and Valeo. The companies coordinated their prices and other trading conditions for the supply of vehicle lighting systems across the European Economic Area. The companies met at trade fairs, during customer visits, discussed tender quotes and exchanged information on price increases, etc.

• Valeo via its leniency application obtained a full immunity and managed to avoid a fine of EUR 30,5 mln ;
• Automotive Lightning and Hella obtained a reduction in fine – 35% and 20% respectively for their active cooperation with the investigation (in addition to 10% each under the settlement procedure for the acknowledgement of their participation in the cartel and their liability).

Concluding remarks

This is just a part of a series of investigations into the automotive sector. Previously the European Commission fined suppliers of car bearings, wire harnesses; car seat flexible foam; parking heaters, air conditioning and engine cooling systems. The case demonstrates clear advantages for the parties of the active cooperation with the competition authority in cartel cases (both in terms of time and money).


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