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€68M ($73M) fines to EU vehicles lead recycling cartel

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 12:45 -- Xuan Zhong
68M ($73M) fines to EU vehicles lead recycling cartel

Three European lead recycling firms have been fined a total of €68 million ($73 million) by the European Commission for fixing the purchasing price of scrap automotive batteries.

Eco-Bat Technologies (UK), Campine (Belgium) and Recylex (France), were each fined for their part in the cartel. The fourth, Johnson Controls, escaped a fine because it blew the whistle on the malpractice.

The companies were found to have colluded to reduce the purchase price paid to suppliers of used vehicle batteries and scrap lead.

By manipulating the prices, the four companies were able to prevent competition on price and disturb the market, according to the Commission.

In a statement posted on its website, Eco-bat said its fine of €32.7 million ($34.8 million) would be borne by its German and French subsidiaries, Berzelius Metall, and Société de Traitements Chimiques des Métaux SAS.

The company has recorded a provision of €34 million ($36 million) in its third quarter accounts for 2016.

The statement added: “Eco-Bat is reviewing the decision and has not yet determined whether it will appeal any aspects to the General Court of the European Union.”

Recylex and Campine had been fined €26 million ($28 million) and €8 million ($9 million) respectively, published by the European Commission.

EUbusiness, a European business news website recently reported that 99% of car batteries in the EU are recycled, with about 58 million automotive batteries recycled in the EU per year.

Johnson Controls is fully cooperating with the EU’s ongoing probe into procurement practices, Christian Riedel, a spokesman for the company in Hanover, Germany, told BBB last year.

Five companies were initially embroiled in the scandal, which saw firms fixing the prices of scrap lead-acid batteries in Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands over a three-year period to 2012.

Photo: Margrethe Vestager