The European Union on Wednesday imposed hundreds
of millions of euros in fines on 21 companies for price fixing, in
its latest attempt to enforce the bloc's strict competition rules.
Thirteen air freight firms -- including Deutsche Bahn subsidiaries Schenker and Bax Global and the United States' United Parcel Service (UPS) -- were fined a total of 169 million euros ($225 million) for running separate cartels in 2002-2006.
Deutsche Bahn's share of the penalty was almost 35 million euros, while UPS's was close to 10 million euros.
Deutsche Post and its subsidiaries DHL and Exel were spared because they had owned up to the illegal practice - which covered the Europe-U.S., China/Hong Kong-Europe routes, the E.U.'s executive, the European Commission, said in a statement.
In one instance, companies set up a so-called Gardening Club, with code names based on vegetables such as "asparagus" and "baby courgettes" to hide their price-fixing activities. In another, a Yahoo email account was used to trade information, the commission said.
Companies involved in a window mountings cartel from 1999 to 2007 were fined 86 million euros in total. The cartel was comprised of German companies Gretsch-Unitas, Roto Frank, Siegenia, Winkhaus, Hautau, Fuhr and Strenger, along with Maco of Austria and AGB of Italy.
Roto Frank was spared a fine because it acted as the whistleblower.
The nine companies would meet "every year in the third week of November" during trade fairs in Germany to set a price increase for the following year, the commission said.
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