BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- European Union regulators fined five companies that produce aluminum fluoride euro 4.97 million (US$7.74 million) Wednesday for running a cartel.
The fines were imposed on Fluorsid SpA of Italy, Switzerland's Minmet Financing Company SA, Societe des Industries Chimique du Fluor from Tunisia, and two Mexican firms: Industrial Quimica de Mexico SA de CV and Q.B. Industrias SAB de CV.
The European Commission said the companies agreed in 2000 to fix worldwide target prices and divide markets. Norwegian company Boliden Odda received immunity from EU antitrust authorities because it blew the whistle on the cartel, the commission said in a statement.
Aluminum fluoride is used to lower the smelting temperature of aluminum, reducing energy consumption in the process.
The commission said the cartel members met in July 2000 in Milan, Italy, and agreed on a worldwide target price increase and division of markets. It said the cartel lasted until the end of 2000. Due to the short duration of the cartel and the size of the market, the commission said the fines were relatively low.