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Siemens loses appeal over EU cartel fine

The company logo of Siemens AG is pictured atop an office building in Berlin September 30, 2013. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz
The company logo of Siemens AG is pictured atop an office building in Berlin September 30, 2013. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Technology companies Siemens, Mitsubishi Electric and Toshiba Corp have lost an appeal at Europe's highest court over a ruling made in 2007 that they were part of a cartel selling electrical equipment.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said in a statement that the fine of 397 million euros ($546.4 million) handed down to Siemens, as well as the finding that Mitsubishi and Toshiba participated in the cartel were thus final.

The European Commission had fined a total of 10 companies including Alstom and Areva in 2007 for taking part in a gas insulated switchgear cartel, with the 750 million euro total penalty the largest ever delivered by the watchdog at the time.

While Mitsubishi and Toshiba had succeeded in getting their fines annulled by the General Court of the European Union, the Commission has since recalculated the amounts, setting a 74.8 million euro penalty for Mitsubishi and 56.8 million for Toshiba.

Siemens said it respected the decision of the court.

Mitsubishi and Toshiba said they would fight to get the fines reduced. They currently have appeals pending at the General Court.

The cartel, which used code names for firms and individuals to avoid detection, had operated for more than 16 years, with agreements between the European companies not to sell in Japan and vice-versa, the Commission had previously said.

(This story has been refiled to correct paragraph 4 to show the Commission, not the ECJ, has recalculated the fine for Mitsubishi and Toshiba)

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan in Frankfurt, Irene Preisinger in Munich, and Sarah White in Tokyo; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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