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Finland hands out £75M in fines to contractors operating a cartel in asphalt sector

Finland has imposed fines totalling £75M on seven contractors found guilty of operating a asphalt cartel.

The Finnish Competition Authority said a national cartel had been in operation in the asphalt industry between 1994 and 2002. The cartel divided up the market and had engaged in pricing and tendering collusion. Seven firms were found guilty by the Finnish Market Court in December 2007.

The decision was appealed and taken to the Supreme Court, which increased the fine for the seven companies involved, including Skanska, to EUR 82.5M (£75M). The new ruling cannot be appealed.

Other firms involved include major Swedish contractor NCC and major Finnish contractor Lemminkäinen.

Skanska’s fine, for the activities of Skanska Asfaltti during the 1990s, now amounts to £4.1M. It was also ordered to pay a £1.2M administration fee.

In response, Skanska said it was “opposed to all forms of unethical actions”.

“Since 2002, when Skanska adopted a global code of conduct, thousands of employees and all new recruits have received training in Skanska’s code of conduct,” it said in a statement.

NCC was handed an increased fine of £6.2M for the activities of its subsidiaries NCC Roads and VLT Trading, £4M higher than originally imposed.

“The fee is £4M higher than in the Finnish Market Court. We will now analyze the reasons why the fee was raised,” said NCC general counsel Håkan Broman in a statement.

To avoid future infringements of the competition act, an NCC Group training programme in competition law has been provided to 310 NCC Roads managers. In addition, NCC has implemented an in-house training programme in the form of seminars covering such areas as competition regulations, bribery, subornation and NCC’s values.

Lemminkäinen has been ordered to pay a fine of £6.2M, the amount originally proposed by the Finnish Competition Authority. The firm has warned the stock market it will make a loss this year as a result.

“Lemminkäinen renews its earlier guidance according to which the Group’s turnover of 2009 will be clearly lower than the level of 2008,” said the company in a statement.

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