Cartel Digest

Organic Peroxides

Organic Peroxides
  Overall Cartel Period 1971-1999
  Participants Akzo Nobel NV Arnhem; Atofina SA; AC Treuhand AG; Peroxidos Organicos SA; Degussa UK Holdings Ltd.; Elf Atochem SA.; Peroxid Chemie GmbH & Co. KF
  Total Fines (DOJ) $5 million
  Total Fines (EC) €69.5 million

In 2000, the European Commission (“EC”), and later, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”), launched an investigation into manufacturers of organic peroxides, which are industrial chemicals used in the manufacture of most polystyrene products such as containers and packaging.  The market for organic peroxides in Europe in 1999 was estimated at €250 million, and annual sales of organic peroxides in the United States in 2002 were approximately $300 million.  The DOJ found that cartel members conspired between August 1997 and March 1998 to suppress and eliminate competition among organic peroxides producers.  The EC’s investigation revealed that the cartel existed in Europe for nearly three decades between January 1971 and December 1999.

 

Enforcement Highlights:

  • The DOJ imposed fines totaling $5 million on two companies.
  • The EC imposed fines totaling nearly €70 million on five companies.
  • Fines imposed by the EC on several companies were increased significantly as a result of those companies past participation in other cartels.
  • Akzo Nobel Chemicals, the largest producer of organic peroxides in the world, received full immunity for alerting the EC to the existence of the cartel.
Company Conspiracy Period Fine (USD) Plea Date No. of Excluded Individuals Plea Agreement
Degussa UK Holdings Ltd. 8/97-3/98 $1.5 million 10/20/2004 3 Plea Agreement
Elf Atochem SA 8/97-3/98 $3.5 million 04/12/2002 2 Plea Agreement
Europe
Company Fine Date
Akzo Nobel NV Arnhem Immunity 12/10/2003
Atofina SA € 43.5 million 12/10/2003
AC Treuhand AG € 1,000 12/10/2003
Peroxidos Organicos SA € 500,000 12/10/2003
Degussa UK Holdings Ltd. € 16.7 million 12/10/2003
Peroxid Chemie GmbH & Co. KF € 8.8 million 12/10/2003