BRUSSELS, Dec 7 (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Wednesday it was fining producers of refrigeration compressors 161 million euros ($215 million in a settlement of a cartel investigation.
The Commission, which acts as competition regulator in the EU, said the cartel concerned small compressors mainly used in domestic fridges and freezers, as well as in commercial appliances such as vending machines and ice cream coolers.
The Commission fined Denmark’s Danfoss 90 million euros for its role, while Embraco Europe Srl of Italy and Whirlpool SA of Brazil were jointly fined 54.53 million euros.
Italy’s Appliances Components Companies SpA and Elettromeccanica SpA were jointly penalised to the tune of 9 million euros, while Japan’s Panasonic Corp. will have to pay a penalty of 7.668 million euros.
Tecumseh Products Co. Inc. and its Brazilian and European units escaped fines, having been granted immunity for reporting the cartel.
“At a time of economic hardship it is all the more important to promote fair competition and step up the fight against cartels which inflict serious damage on productivity and economic growth,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement.
The Commission said it took into account the market share of the offenders, the seriousness of the infringements and the wide scope of the cartel, which ran from April 2004 to October 2007.