Competition Bureau Canada

Competition Bureau Canada

November 21, 2008 13:00 ET

Competition Bureau Canada: Akzo Nobel Chemicals International BV Fined $3.15 Million for its Role in an International Cartel

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 21, 2008) - The Competition Bureau announced today that Akzo Nobel Chemicals International BV has been fined $3.15 million by the Federal Court after the company pleaded guilty to criminal charges for fixing the price of hydrogen peroxide sold in Canada.

"Price-fixing agreements deny Canadians the benefits of free and open competitive markets - product choice, quality services and competitive prices. Anyone involved in a price-fixing conspiracy risks heavy criminal penalties, and the Competition Bureau will take action against businesses engaged in such conduct," said Sheridan Scott, Commissioner of Competition.

The Bureau's investigation revealed that between October 1998 and June 2001, Akzo Nobel and its co-conspirators agreed to fix the price of hydrogen peroxide sold in Canada. The company, which is cooperating with the Bureau, pleaded guilty to a violation of section 45 of the Competition Act. Under section 45 of the Act, any agreement between competitors to fix prices or share markets that results in an undue lessening of competition in Canada is a criminal offence. Penalties for price-fixing include fines up to $10 million, imprisonment to a maximum term of five years, or both. The Bureau's investigation into this international conspiracy is on-going.

Hydrogen peroxide is mainly used in the pulp and paper industry as a bleaching agent and chemical oxidant. It is commonly used in households as a disinfectant for minor cuts and wounds, and is also used in the environmental, chemical, textile and food processing industries. Sales for hydrogen peroxide in Canada were approximately $470 million during the relevant period. At that time, Akzo Nobel held about a five per cent share of the market.

In its investigation, the Bureau benefited from the cooperation of an immunity applicant. Under the Bureau's Immunity Program, the first party to disclose to the Competition Bureau an offence not yet detected or to provide evidence leading to the filing of charges may receive immunity from the Director of Public Prosecutions of Canada as long as the party co-operates with the Bureau.

Copies of the documents filed before the Federal Court are available on the Competition Bureau's Web site or from the Court Registry (Court file number T-1698-08).

The Competition Bureau is an independent agency that contributes to the prosperity of Canadians by protecting and promoting competitive markets and enabling informed consumer choice.

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