In 2006, seven European chemical companies were fined a total of £275m for operating an illegal cartel that fixed chemical prices in continental Europe and the UK.
The particular chemical in question was hydrogen peroxide, and agent for bleaching textiles and an ingredient in many domestic soap powders.
The seven companies were found guilty by the European Competition regulator, the European Competition Commission, of two particular practices: price fixing of chemicals and ‘carving-up’ the chemical market across Europe.
The cartel came to light in 2002 when one company involved became a ‘whistle blower’ and gained immunity from prosecution.
The fines were the third largest imposed by the European Commission, mainly reflecting the fact that the participants of the cartel were repeat offenders.