Essen-based corporation ThyssenKrupp received by far the largest of the fines – €103 million of a total of €124.5 million handed out – after an investigation that lasted over a year.
The company is believed to have formed a cartel and fixed the price for track steel over several years. The biggest victim was German rail operator Deutsche Bahn, but tracks were also sold in Switzerland and Austria.
“The track producers gave each other virtually constant proportions of the Deutsche Bahn orders for years,” cartel office president Andreas Mundt said in a statement. The cartel had “observed order quotas, divided up orders among themselves and fixed prices to manipulate the bidding,” he added.
The other companies implicated were Hamburg Stahlberg Roensch, part of the Vossloh corporation, which received a fine of €13 million, and two subsidiary companies of Austrian steel corporation Voestalpine, who have to pay €8.5 million.
The fine only concludes the first part of the investigation, which is now turning its attention to other steel giants. Altogether, seven companies from five different countries are thought to have been involved.
“The Federal Cartel Office will now shift the focus of investigations in the railway track case onto other areas,” said Mundt.
The companies still have the option of appealing against the fines. If they do, the case will go before a regional court in Dusseldorf.