The Federal Court of Canada last week fined four leading vitamin companies C$3.875 million (€2.5m) for a conspiracy to fix prices and allocate market shares for the vitamin B3 sold in bulk in Canada.
According to independent law enforcement agency, the Competition Bureau, Germany's Degussa, Swiss group Lonza, and Nepera and Reilly Industries of the United States pleaded guilty to participating in the international conspiracy, which ran from January 1992 until March 1998, in breach of Canada's Competition Act.
The Toronto court also imposed a C$150,000 fine on former Hoffmann-La Roche senior executive Dr Kuno Sommer, a Swiss national, for his role in multiple price-fixing conspiracies and allocating market shares for 10 bulk vitamins and food additive products sold in Canada with regard to which eight firms and two individuals were convicted and fined in 1998 and 2000.
"These criminal cartels have forced Canadian consumers to pay higher prices for their everyday staples," said Raymond Pierce, deputy commissioner of the Competition Bureau. "Aggressive action to stop international cartels that target Canadian consumers, and holding those accountable through stringent penalties, is a priority for the Competition Bureau. We will continue to pursue such behaviour by any corporation, domestic or foreign."
Degussa was sentenced to pay C$2.5 million, while Lonza was fined C$1.1 million. Nepera and Reilly Industries were fined C$240,000 and C$35,000 respectively for offences relating to vitamin B3. Sommer was fined a C$150,000 for his role in the bulk vitamins case.
The total amount for fines imposed by Canadian Courts since September 1999 against the bulk vitamins conspiracies is approximately C$95.5 million. During this period, sales in Canada of the bulk vitamins by the producers convicted to date were between C$705 and C$750 million.