Gegen the Westphalian meat manufacturers, Clemens Tönnies, not even the Federal cartel office. The authority must waive the collection of a three-digit million amount, because the Tönnies subsidiary company against which the penalty notice was addressed, legally exist.
against The company Böklunder Plumrose and Könecke Fleischwarenfabrik adopted “fines of a total of 128 million euros as a result of internal group restructuring measures obsolete”, had to give the office on Wednesday. The penalty proceedings were therefore terminated.
it comes with a relatively simple, but effective Trick. He had transferred the two competition law offenders according to the decision of the Federal cartel office, to other companies of its holding company The mills group, then you were gone – for the fines since there is no addressee.
“We would have avoided this result,” said Andreas Mundt, the President of the Federal cartel office. The restructuring within the mills group have, however, led to a claim for payment of the fines could not be enforced.
The process is as a “sausage-gap” in the legal history – and he is not an isolated case. “We are currently reviewing other processes in which high amounts could be,” said Mundt. He welcomed the adoption of the draft law on the amendment of the antitrust law, which is to close the “sausage-gap” in the future. The Federal Cabinet had decided on the proposed Amendment until the end of September.
This would introduce a liability of companies based on the European model, so Mundt: “Only when guiding the group to mothers for the fines with stand, can secured the effects of sanctions on large companies and workaround solutions can be prevented.”
Only Südzucker punished, the cartel guards are even higher
Annoying the Tönnies-Trick is not only for the taxpayer that this sum ultimately escapes, but also for the numerous other companies that are flying in the Wake of the sausage cartel. Two years ago, the Federal cartel office had imposed a total of EUR 338 million of fines on 21 sausage manufacturers and 33 individuals, which, according to the investigations by the competition authorities for years about the prices for cooked sausages, ham and other products.
Eleven companies, and more than a dozen people have now paid a total of 71 million. They had previously declared their willingness to cooperate and confessions. The rest of the fight appeals against payment assessments from Bonn.
The sum of 128 million euros, was imposed against the Tönnies company, is one of the highest fines issued by the Bundeskartellamt ever. Throughout the year 2015, only 208 million euros were collected for all procedures in Germany. 2014 was an exceptional 1.12 billion Euro of imposed fines, however, year, in addition to the agreements in the case of meat, extensive cartels of German sugar manufacturers and beer manufacturers were blown.
it was then, in part, to higher fines of up to almost 195.5 million Euro in the case of Südzucker. 2014 is so far the only year in the history of the authority, in the more than a billion euros were imposed in fines.
consumers paid excessive prices
In the sausage industry had developed, according to the antitrust investigators, a System of agreements, whose beginnings date back to the early 80s. Nearly two dozen companies had agreed to representation by the Federal cartel office pointed out that, in the forthcoming price negotiations with the large food retailers.
the scope and justification of price increases were prohibited, been matched. “The aim was that the well-known meat – and sausage products to the manufacturer jointly and uniformly to the food retail sector, in order to increase demands in the negotiations with more emphasis and thus more successful,” – said the cartel office then.
Even over the period of time that you wanted to major retail chains, the cartel members coordinated. This also had been looking at, which is the sausage to go ahead producer with his claim, and the ice at the commercial break. Were affected in both packaged goods and meat products, which were offered on the fresh counter.
in the end, the consumers were paying excessive prices. The illegal middle profits are to be collected via the fines and the General public benefit. In the case of Tönnies, this mechanism has failed as a result of the previously undetected remaining “sausage-gap”.