EUROPE – The European Commission has fined packaging companies Crown and Silgan a total of €31.5million ($31.55 million) for participating in a cartel concerning sales of metal cans and closures in Germany.

The companies have admitted to having been active in the cartel, which concerned the sales of metal cans and closures in Germany.

The commission found that Crown and Silgan were involved in the two-part infringement between 2011 and 2014.

During this period, the companies regularly exchanged detailed data on their latest annual sales volumes of metal closures to their individualized customers in Germany.

In addition, Crown and Silgan worked together to impose a surcharge and implement shorter minimum durability recommendations regarding metal cans and closures coated with Bisphenol A (BPA) free lacquer.

This investigation was initiated by the German antitrust authority in 2015 and later transferred to the EC in 2018.

EC executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, who oversees competition policy, said: “Metal food cans and closures are part of every household’s pantry.

“We fine today Crown and Silgan for illegally exchanging sensitive business information and coordinating their commercial strategies at a time when the industry has been transitioning towards less harmful metal cans and closures.”

Both companies confessed to their involvement and agreed to settle the case, with Silgan agreeing to pay a fine of €23.85 million (US$23.89 million). The EC has agreed to fully close its investigation.

The fines were set on the basis of the Commission’s 2006 Guidelines on fines. In setting the fines, the Commission took into account in particular, the serious nature of the infringement, its geographic scope and its duration.

Under the Commission’s 2006 Leniency Notice, Crown benefited from a 50% reduction of the fine for its cooperation with the Commission’s investigation.

The reduction reflects the timing of its cooperation and the extent to which the evidence they provided helped the Commission prove the existence of the cartel in which it were involved.

In addition, under the Commission’s 2008 Settlement Notice, the Commission applied a reduction of 10% to the fines imposed on the companies in view of their acknowledgment of their participation in the cartel and of their liability in this respect.

Silgan President and CEO Adam Greenlee said: “After seven long years of working with and supporting this investigation, we felt it was in the best interests of Silgan to enter into this settlement to end the investigation.

“Silgan has cooperated with the European Commission throughout this investigation, and the time has come to stop incurring costs and expending valuable management time on this matter that dates back to 2015.”

Earlier this year, Crown reported US$3.16 billion in net sales for the first quarter (Q1) of the fiscal year 2022 (FY22).

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