Netherlands: Watchdog investigates shipping fuel cartel

The Dutch competition watchdog said on Wednesday it was investigating a possible price-fixing cartel by fuel companies in ports in the Netherlands and Belgium.

The watchdog, known by its Dutch acronym ACM, said it had visited some of the dozens of companies active in fuel production, transportation, storage and trading in Rotterdam, Antwerp and Amsterdam after receiving information from the police.

The ACM, which did not name any of the companies, said in a statement it had asked anyone with relevant information to come forward.

Industry group Nove, which represents independent fuel traders in Rotterdam and Amsterdam with a combined market share of 40%, said two of its members had been visited by the ACM and that other companies had received a questionnaire.

Nove, which also declined to name the companies involved, said it was surprised by the investigation. “Prices for maritime fuels in Rotterdam are amongst the lowest in the world and are very transparent”, the organization’s head, Erik de Vries, said.

Fines for participants in a cartel can amount to 40% of a company’s worldwide annual revenue, or to €900,000 (US$1 million) for people in charge of the deals. Fines can be lowered for companies that admit wrongdoing, the ACM said.

Full Content: Financial Times

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