The BKartA this week imposed fines totalling €15.11 million on 12 German chemical wholesalers, active in the distribution of chemicals, on account of anti-competitive agreements. With this, the BKartA concluded the first part of its extensive cartel proceedings against the chemical wholesale sector.

The 12 participants in the cartel had agreed prices and supply quotas for many years (in some cases decades) for standardised industrial chemicals (so called "commodities").  They had also additionally allocated customers through customer protection agreements. The cartel activities were limited to the wholesalers' distribution business and did not affect direct supplies of chemicals from producers.

The scope of the investigation and the regional structure of many of the cartels and agreements between the chemical wholesalers led the BKartA to split the proceedings into separate parts. The fines issued in this first round of the BKartA's investigation relate to a total of six different regional cartels between wholesale distributors of chemicals.

The investigation was first launched in late 2006, following a leniency application by Brenntag AG (Mühlheim/Ruhr). As the first participant to apply for leniency, no fine was imposed on Brenntag AG.

In the course of the proceedings, all other companies under investigation which were consequently fined, agreed to cooperate fully, a factor that was taken into account when setting the individual fines.

Although the fining orders can still be appealed before the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court, all parties involved have agreed to terminate the proceedings under settlement and will therefore not appeal

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