This week, the BKartA imposed a fine of approx. € 1 million for price fixing and customer allocation against five manufacturers as well as a wholesaler of paper plates.

The BKartA started investigating the six participants in the cartel (Feinpappenwerk Gebr. Schuster GmbH, Hosti International GmbH, CL Rick Produktionsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, PAPSTAR Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, Dr. Rösler & Weiss KG and Zechel Pappteller GmbH) following complaints to the BKartA by purchasers of the cartelised products.

The investigation uncovered that for years, at least for the period between 1999 up until the dawn raids conducted in October of 2002, the cartel participants had met on numerous occasions and agreed prices and allocated customers between them. The cartel activity covered the products such as paper plates, bowls, fast-food-plates and decorative paper for cakes.

Immunity applications were submitted by a number of cartel participants (Schuster, Hosti, Rösler and Zechel) during the course of the investigation, the undertakings cooperating fully with the BKartA for the entire investigation. This was acknowledged by the BKartA when setting the fines, thereby reducing the fines for the cooperating undertakings. The fines against the four cooperating undertakings are legally binding and the undertakings will not appeal.

The other two undertakings involved (CL Rick and PAPSTAR) have similarly agreed to a settlement with the BKartA, accepting the fine as legally binding and refraining from bringing an appeal before the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court, in return for a smaller reduction of the fine set by the BKartA.

It remains unclear why the investigation has taken over 8 years for the fining orders to be issued, the initial dawn raids taking place in 2002.

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