Mar 19, 2007
Otis, Koné, ThyssenKrupp and Schindler are well known names to those who ride elevators ... or have to climb the stairs when they are broken.
These four giant industrial corporations, the world leaders in the elevator sector, were recently fined 1.3 billion dollars by the European Commission. They were accused of dividing up the market for the installation and maintenance of elevators, rigging bids and fixing prices. This occurred between 1995 and 2004 in several European countries including Germany, Holland and Belgium. Some of the companies said they will appeal the fine. But it’s clear that all of them will simply pass the fines on to the purchasers of elevators, adding to all the profit they extracted from them over the years.
This is the biggest fine ever imposed on companies for colluding to fix prices, but not the only one. Just last January the European Commission issued a fine of almost one billion dollars against some of the biggest providers of electric equipment. The companies were Siemens, Schneider, Alstom, Areva, Mitsubishi, Hitachi and Fuji. They were accused of colluding around the world to raise the price of gas-insulated switchgear used to control energy flows in electric grids. Their collusion lasted 16 years, during which time these corporations organized a real racket. According to the investigation, they established a sophisticated communication system with anonymous and encoded e-mails, and code names for rival companies included inside ordinary-looking messages, all to divide up markets and rig bids.
Business account books are hidden from the world. All these sharp practices occur under the cover of sacrosanct business secrets.
And these businesses dare to say that they face fierce international competition!