Italian raw tobacco appeals
On 5 October 2011, the General Court handed down the latest judgments General Court handed down the latest judgments in the Italian raw tobacco appeals. It partially annulled the European Commission’s decision of 20 October 2005, reducing the fine imposed on Romana Tabacchi, but upholding the fines imposed on Transcatab and Mindo.
The Commission imposed fines totalling approximately €56m on several tobacco producers, finding that they had agreed prices and rigged bids at public auctions on the Italian raw tobacco market.
Deltafina was subject to the largest fine of €30m; Transcatab and Mindo were fined on a joint and several basis with Alliance One, the legal successor of their parent companies, €14m and €10m respectively; Romana Tabacchi was fined €2.05m.
Deltafina, which had secured conditional immunity for disclosing the existence of the cartel, lost its immunity by disclosing the fact of its application to its main competitors. Romana Tabacchi brought an appeal seeking a reduction in its fine. The court found that the Commission had erred in its findings as regards the duration of Romana Tabacchi’s participation in the cartel and its market share. As a consequence Romana Tabacchi’s fine was reduced to €1m.
An appeal by Transcatab was unsuccessful and Alliance One paid the entirety of Mindo’s fine and therefore, the court held that there was no reason for it to adjudicate.