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Siemens, 15 others get record fine by Czech regulator

Siemens AG, Europe's biggest engineering company, and 15 other makers of electricity network equipment were fined a record 979 mln koruna ($44.8 mln) for price fixing by Czech Republic regulators.

The companies conspired to fix prices on various bids under an agreement that dated back to 1988 in Vienna, the Czech Anti-Monopoly Office in Brno said. The regulator's decision, which has yet to take effect, was made February 9. „The cartel agreement had a worldwide impact,” the office said. „It is the so-called bid rigging, when participants have agreed among themselves on who will offer what price” in order for the „pre-chosen company to get the contract.” Siemens AG was fined the highest amount of 127 million koruna (€4.49 million). The regulator said it considered a period of activity among the companies, which are producers of gas-insulated switchgear used to control electricity flow, from 2001 to 2004, during which they sold projects in the central European country worth 700 million koruna. Marc Langendorf, a spokesman at Siemens, said the company would need to review the ruling and comment later. The European Commission on January 24 levied a fine of €751 million ($973 million) against 10 companies over the same cartel agreement. Some of the companies have said they may appeal the EU fine. The 16 companies fined by the Czech regulator are: Alstom, Areva T&D SA, Areva T&D AG, Areva T&D Holding SA, Fuji Electric Holdings Co., Ltd., Fuji Electric Systems Co., Ltd., Hitachi Ltd., Hitachi Europe Limited, Japan AE Power Systems Corporation, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Toshiba Corporation, Siemens AG, Siemens Aktiengesellschaft Oesterreich, VA Tech Transmission & Distribution GmbH & Co KEG, Siemens Transmission and Distribution Limited and Nuova Magrini Galileo S.p.A. (Bloomberg)