BRUSSELS, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- The European Union's executive body Wednesday fined 11 European and Japanese companies $971 million for price fixing and other restrictive practices.
The European Commission said it fined Switzerland's ABB Group; France's Alstom and Areva; Japan's Fuji, Hitachi Japan AE Power Systems and Mitsubishi Electric Corp.; France's Schneider Electric; Germany's Siemens AG; Japan's Toshiba Corp.; and VA Tech for price fixing and illegally carving up the power-generation equipment market.
Between 1988 and 2004, the companies allegedly rigged bids for procurement contracts, fixed prices, allocated projects to each other, shared markets and exchanged commercially important and confidential information, the commission said.
Siemens was fined $543 million for its leading role, the largest fine EU regulators have ever imposed on a single company for participating in a cartel.
"The commission has put an end to a cartel which has cheated public utility companies and consumers for more than 16 years," Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said.
The case demonstrates "the commission can and will bring down such cartels even if the companies concerned use sophisticated technology to cover their tracks," he said.