EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia Wednesday announced fines totaling 138 million euros on several companies producing Smart Card Chips, a product used in the SIM cards of mobile phones, for breach of rules that prohibit cartels.
He told a press conference that the companies involved were Infineon, Philips, Samsung and Renesas, a joint venture of Hitachi and Mitsubishi.
"Instead of competing, these companies colluded in order to coordinate their market behavior throughout Europe," said Almunia.
These companies held contacts to discuss price trends as well as production capacity. They also disclosed to each other their future market conduct, in general or for negotiations with individual customers, he noted.
The cartel was organized through a network of bilateral contacts that took place between September 2003 and September 2005. These contacts allowed them to prepare their respective responses to customers' requests to lower prices.
The cartelists must have known that their conduct was illegal. Some of them even took measures to conceal the collusion. But the cartel was ultimately discovered and punished, said Almunia.
One company, Renesas, has received immunity from fines as it had revealed the existence of the cartel to the European Commission. Samsung also received a reduction of 30 percent of its fine for cooperating with the investigation.