The Finnish Consumer and Competition Authority (KKV) is demanding that fines of a total of four million euros be imposed on two companies for participating in a price-fixing cartel in the market for expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation products in Finland.
KKV on Tuesday stated that illegal co-operation between the competitors resulted in a spike in the prices of EPS insulation, causing harm to consumers, businesses and public sector operators nationwide.
ThermiSol and UK-Muovi, it revealed, agreed on the scope, timing and implementation of the price increases in a series of telephone conversations and face-to-face meetings. The price increases were implemented in the spring of 2013 and 2014 – prior to the seasonal peak in demand for insulation products, in an apparent attempt to maximise the benefits.
ThermiSol could consequently face a fine of 2.8 million euros and UK-Muovi one of 1.5 million euros. KKV also revealed that it has granted a third member of the cartel a penalty exemption on grounds that the company notified it of the illegal arrangement in November 2015.
A final decision on whether or not to issue the fines will be made by the Market Court of Finland.
EPS insulation products are used primarily for thermal, technical and acoustic insulation in both new construction and renovation projects.
Antti Norkela, the head of cartel detection at KKV, reminded in a press release that there is evidence to suggest that cartels remain a feature of modern-day business.
“There have been no signs of a decline in the number of serious tip-offs and contacts. This is obviously a particularly unfortunate observation from the viewpoint of customers and the national economy,” he told.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT