On 10 February 2011 the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) imposed fines totalling approx. €20.5m on three manufacturers of fire engines for price fixing and quota agreements.

The companies fined are Albert Ziegler GmbH & Co. KG, Schlingmann GmbH & Co. KG, both with locations in Germany and Rosenbauer-Group with locations in Germany and Austria. The proceedings against a fourth manufacturer of fire engines are still pending. The FCO also fined a chartered accountant due to its participation in the cartel agreement.

At least from 2001 the companies had agreed on price fixing and sales quotas. For several years the four companies involved granted target quotas to each other. The companies notified a chartered accountant based in Switzerland of their sales data. From these data the accountant compiled a list of projects. In order to control whether the companies complied with the target quotas, the companies met regularly at the Zürich airport. Moreover the companies agreed on price increases.

In addition to the Zürich meetings, sales directors of the companies met regularly in order to allocate the municipal public tenders for fire engines. The proceedings against the individuals involved had been handed over to the public prosecution and criminal proceedings for bid-rigging have been initiated against the individuals.

The FCO searched the companies four times from May 2009 to July 2010. Searches also took place in Austria where the FCO was successfully supported by the Austrian Competition Authority.

According to the FCO the companies involved agreed on a settlement. However, the fining decision is not yet final and absolute.

To view Community Week, Issue 508; 11th February 2011 in full, Click here.

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