Cartel Digest

Synthetic Rubber (Polychloroprene)

Synthetic Rubber (Polychloroprene)
  Overall Cartel Period 1999-2002
  Participants Syndial SpA; Dupont Dow Elastomers LLC; Bayer AG; Denka Chemicals GmbH; E.I. Dupont de Nemours and Company; ENI SpA and Polimeri Europa SpA; Tosoh Corp.
  Total Fines (DOJ) $93 million
  Total Fines (EC) €217.3 million

In March and July 2003, the European Commission (“EC”) conducted raids on manufacturers of polychloroprene rubber, also known as neoprene or chloroprene rubber,a synthetic product that maintains flexibility over a wide temperature range and isused in the production of technical rubber parts (e.g. cables and power transmission belts), and for adhesives in the shoe and furniture industry (e.g. soles, heels and coated fabrics). The market for chloroprene rubber in the European Economic Area was approximately €160 million in 2001, the last full year of the infringement. The EC found that, between 1993 and 2002, manufacturers agreed on market shares and prices for most of Europe, and held regular meetings to exchange secret commercial figures.

In the United States, the Department of Justice imposed fines totaling $93 million against two companies for their roles in a price-fixing conspiracy in the chloroprene rubber industry. In 2005, approximately $200 million of chloroprene rubber was sold in the United States. The Canadian Competition Bureau ("CCB") also fined Du Pont $4 million CAD for fixing prices for polychloroprene rubber in the American market. The CCB estimated that, during the relevant period (1999-2002), sales of the product in Canada were approximately $50 million CAD, and Du Pont's share of the market represented approximately 70%.

Enforcement Highlights:

  • The EC imposed fines totaling over €200 million on six companies.
  • Bayer received full immunity for informing the EC of the cartel.
Company Conspiracy Period Fine (USD) Plea Date No. of Excluded Individuals Plea Agreement
Syndial SpA 9/99-4/02 $9 million 06/29/2005 1 Plea Agreement
Dupont Dow Elastomers LLC 4/99-4/02 $84 million 03/29/2005 4 Plea Agreement
Canada
Company Fine Date
Du Pont Performance Elastomers $ 4 million 07/19/2007
Europe
Company Fine Date
Bayer AG Immunity 12/05/2007
Tosoh Corp. € 4.8 million 12/05/2007
E.I. Dupont de Nemours and Company € 59.3 million 12/05/2007
ENI SpA and Polimeri Europa SpA € 106.2 million 12/05/2007
Denka Chemicals GmbH € 47 million 12/05/2007