The European Commission fined Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google approximately $2.7 billion on Monday, June 27 for violating European anti-trust rules, alleging that the internet giant has been using its search service to illegally prioritize its own shopping-comparison site. Here are some of the largest anti-trust cases in the European Commission's history.
F. Hoffmann-La Roche - $434 million
After the seedy vitamin criminal underworld was exposed in the late 1990s, pharmaceutical giant F. Hoffmann-LaRoche Ltd took the largest hit from European Commission regulators. The commission found that 13 companies colluded to eliminate competition for vitamin A, E, B1, B2, B5, B6, C, D3, and other vitamins. "A striking feature of this complex of infringements was the central role played by Hoffmann-La Roche and BASF, the two main vitamin producers, in virtually each and every cartel, whilst other players were involved in only a limited number of vitamin products," the commission said at the time.
Six banks were fined $2.3 billion in total in 2013 for manipulating European interest rate derivatives, with German lender Deutsche Bank (DB) hit with the heaviest penalty. Though the original fine was set at almost $818 million, it was later reduced to about $525 million. The bank hasn't managed to go very long without another large fine since then -- earlier this year, it received penalties of more than $600 million from a U.S. regulator for a $10 billion Russian money laundering scheme.
Koninklijke Philips N.V., LG Electronics, and Panasonic Corporation faced record fines in 2012 for acting like "textbook cartels," in the words of then-EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia. The companies colluded to fix the price of TV and computer monitor tubes -- the cathode ray devices that determine a majority of the price of a television. In the decade between 1996 and 2006, executives from the companies met for so-called "green meetings" where they colluded on pricing over rounds of golf. While Philips faced the largest fine, at about $795 million, LG faced a similar penalty of $775 million.
Compagnie de Saint-Gobain, which makes autoglass, was fined $1.21 billion in 2008 for exchanging sensitive information with glass manufacturers Asahi Glass Co., Pilkington PLC and Soliver. The fine was reduced to $982 million in 2014, but remained the largest fine imposed by the commission on a single company to that point. The companies reportedly discussed secret price targets, anti-competitive customer allocation and market sharing.
The European Commission hit four truck makers with a total of $3.24 billion in fines for colluding on pricing for more than a decade starting in 1997. Daimler AG, DAF Trucks NV, Iveco and Volvo Group/Renault Trucks were all implicated in the cartel, while Volkswagen subsidiary MAN escaped punishment by acting as a whistleblower. Each company saw a fine large enough to make it into the European Commission's top 10 list.
Intel (INTC) is facing a $1.19 billion fine for alleged anti-competitive practices related to its computer chips. The European Commission first fined the company in 2009, accusing it of trying to beat out rival company Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) through unlawful rebates to Dell, Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ) , NEC and Lenovo. Intel has continued to fight the fine in the courts, and a final judgment is expected to come next year, an E.U. judge said Monday, June 26.
Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) has had more than its fair share of run-ins with the European Commission. The Commission first fined the software giant in 2004, ruling that the company would have to disclose information allowing non-Microsoft products to work with Windows servers. In 2006 and again in 2008, the commission fined the company twice more for failing to comply with the original ruling, bringing the total amount the company owed to about 1.68 billion euros, or $1.9 billion in today's dollars. Finally, in 2013, the Commission fined the company an additional $732 million for failing to comply with regulators. The total fines the company could face is more than $2.5 billion.