European cement cartel probe could lead to UK£4bn in fines

European cement cartel probe could lead to UK£4bn in fines
Published: 21 November 2008

Five major manufacturers under investigation as European Commission raids offices across the continent and face a total fine of up to UK£4bn if they are found guilty of forming an illegal cartel.

Earlier this month, European Commission officials raided UK and European offices of Holcim, Cemex, Lafarge, and HeidelbergCement – as well as Dyckerhoff in Germany – on suspicion of illegal cartel activity.

If the firms are found guilty, they could be fined up to 10 per cent of their combined worldwide turnover, about UK£4bn.

Cartel law specialist John Cassels, of Field Fisher Waterhouse, said that, if found guilty, the companies could be hit with fines at least as large as those imposed last week on car glass manufacturers – a total of UK£1.2bn.

Mr Cassels said: "If the current raids result in finding that there has been a cartel, Dyckerhoff, HeidelbergCement, and Lafarge will be repeat offenders and could face very significant fines, easily as big as the car glass fines.

"Fines could run as high as 10 per cent of group turnover." He added : "Those that buy cement from companies that are found to have been engaged in a cartel are also likely to bring actions for damages to recoup losses.