Heidelberg accepts €161.4 million cartel penalty

By Helen Wright09 April 2013

The Federal Court of Justice in Germany has upheld a 2009 district court decision to impose a penalty on HeidelbergCement for violating cartel laws between 1990 and 2002.

However, the fine of €161.4 million represented a reduction of €8.5 million from the 2009 verdict due to the excessive length of the proceedings.

The cement producer said it had accepted the verdict and expected to pay the fine in the next 12 to 18 months. It added that a charge of €30 million would be accounted for in the second quarter of 2013.

In 2009, the Higher Court in Düsseldorf cut the fines imposed on Heidelberg and four other cement producers found guilty of operating a cartel from a total of €649 million to €330 million.

The original fines, announced by the German Cartel Office in 2003, were based on assumptions about the profits made by the cartel, which also included Holcim, Lafarge, Dyckerhoff and Schwenk. However the 2009 decision said these were unsafe and could not be upheld.

The biggest fine was still imposed on HeidelbergCement, although this was cut from the original €252 million. Nevertheless, Heidelberg launched an appeal.

Heidelberg chairman Dr Bernd Scheifele said, “No current member of the managing board of HeidelbergCement was involved in the incidents, which date back more than ten years. Since then, HeidelbergCement has set up a consistent compliance programme.”

Dr Scheifele added that the company was well-prepared to avoid such violations in the future. Heidelberg’s results outlook is unchanged.

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