ThyssenKrupp fined another $116m in German rail cartel case

ThyssenKrupp GfT Gleistechnik has been fined a further €88 million ($116 million) by Germany’s Federal Cartel Office (FCO) as part of an investigation into price-fixing on railway contracts.

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Both the FCO and ThyssenKrupp confirmed the news separately on Tuesday July 23.

It is the second fine in the case for the Essen-based group, as it was previously told to pay the FCO (or Bundeskartellamt) €111.5 million ($146.8 million) in July 2012.

Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine’s specialist rail division, BWG, was also fined a further €6.4 million ($8.4 million) on top of a previous fine of €4 million ($5.3 million).

“The fines imposed today are directed at price and customer protection agreements which have harmed local public transport companies, private, regional and industrial railways as well as construction companies,” FCO president Andreas Mundt said.

According to the FCO, the cartel existed between 2001 and 2011 on the delivery of products such as rails, switches and sleepers to German railway company Deutsche Bahn.

Allegations against ThyssenKrupp in connection to the case have now been fully settled, the steel producer said.

However, ThyssenKrupp continues to be in talks with Deutsche Bahn on claims for damages filed at the end of 2012 against several companies, including the German steelmaker.

“Both the damage assessment and the burden-sharing among the companies involved in the cartel require detailed investigations,” ThyssenKrupp said.

“The statement of defence does not have to be submitted until October 2013,” it added.

Despite a crackdown on compliance regulations at ThyssenKrupp in April, the company’s Steel Europe arm is included in a separate FCO investigation into the sale of certain steel products to the automotive sector.

On the automotive steel price-fixing allegations, ThyssenKrupp confirmed that “significant risks for the group’s asset, financial and earnings situation cannot be ruled out at present”. 

ArcelorMittal and Voestalpine are also being investigated by the FCO on cartel allegations in the automotive steel product sector.

Other companies to be fined as part of the railway cartel investigation today were Schreck-Mieves, which will have to pay €2.0 million ($2.6 million), while fines totalling €1.24 million ($1.63 million) were levied on Holz-Fehlings Gleistechnik und Entsorgung, Fehlings Narosch Gleistechnik und Entsorgung, Künstler Bahntechnik, Heinrich Krug and Betzler Eisenbahntechnik.

Earlier this month, Czech steel trader Moravia Steel was fined €10 million ($13 million) by the FCO, on allegations related to the railway equipment price-fixing case.

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