German suppliers Brose, Kiekert fined $21M over bid-rigging in Europe

BRUSSELS — The European Commission said in a statement Tuesday that it had fined German suppliers Brose and Kiekert a combined 18 million euros ($21 million) for taking part in bid-rigging activity, known as cartels in Europe.

Brose AG took part in a cartel with Canada’s Magna in the supply of door modules and window regulators for some Daimler vehicles. Canada’s Magna International Inc. and Kiekert AG formed a cartel concerning latches and strikers to BMW and Daimler.

The suppliers coordinated pricing behavior and exchanged commercially sensitive information to preserve their existing businesses and keep prices up.

Magna was not fined because it revealed both cartels to the Commission.

Cartels are called bid-rigging or price-fixing violations in the U.S., where 46 auto suppliers paid about $3 billion in federal fines for price-fixing over the last decadeKiekert was also fined $6.1 million for bid-rigging in the U.S. in 2017.

The EU, which oversees competition policy in the 27-member European Union, has conducted a series of major investigations into suppliers since 2013, imposing a total of 2.17 billion euros ($2.5 billion) in fines.

Law enforcement authorities in the United States and elsewhere have brought price-fixing cases related to seat belts, radiators, windshield wipers, air-conditioning systems, power window motors and power steering components among other parts.

A separate settlement has been reached for up to $1.2 billion covering auto purchasers who sued saying the price fixing and bid rigging had caused millions of consumers and businesses from around the country to pay more for some new or leased vehicles and replacement parts.

Brose ranks No. 38 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers with worldwide sales to automakers of $6.8 billion in 2019.

Automotive News contributed to this report.

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