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Ciba fined for role in EU price-fixing scheme

Two Swiss-based firms, including specialty chemicals company Ciba, have been hit with stiff fines for fixing the price of plastic additives.

The European Commission said Ciba, which became a subsidiary of Germany's BASF group earlier this year, would have to pay €68.4 million (SFr103 million).

All in all, EU regulators penalised 24 companies with fines totalling €173 million. Among the other multinationals are Akzo and Elf Aquitaine.

The Commission said from 1987 to 2000 they fixed prices, shared customers, carved up markets and swapped commercial information for two different kinds of stabilizers that are used as additives in packaging, credit cards, bottles and other plastic products.

The market for the tin stabilizers and ESBO/esters heat stabilizers was worth some €121 million a year during the time the cartel was active.

The second Swiss-based firm involved in the cartel, AC Treuhand, was fined €348,000 for aiding the group and hosting its monthly meetings.

The meetings were held at the consultancy's Zurich offices in an effort to evade EU antitrust officials who can seize documents from offices within the EU. and agencies