Italy fines car finance cartel 678 million euros

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Italy’s anti-trust authority said on January 9 it has fined a swathe of top car makers, including BMW, Fiat-Chrysler, Ford and Toyota, 678 million euros (USD 776 million) for operating a financing cartel.

The car manufacturers and their respective banks which offer financing to customers purchasing vehicles were found guilty of running a cartel from 2003 to 2017, the AGCM competition authority said in a statement.

Cartel members also included General Motors, PSA (Peugeot-Citroen) finance institutions, Renault, Volkswagen, Santander Consumer Bank, and the Assofin and Assilea trade associations.

They “put in place an anti-competition agreement, between 2003 and 2017, to alter the competitive dynamics in the market of car sales… through financing,” it said.

The AGCM noted “a single, complex and continuous agreement concerning the exchange of sensitive information on quantities and prices.”

Germany’s Daimler and its Mercedes Benz Financial Services Italia unit reported the cartel, of which it was a member, and therefore received “total immunity” in return, the authority said.

“Considering the gravity and duration of the infringement” the authority imposed a total fine of 678 million euros.