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EU Fines Heineken over Dutch Beer Cartel

The European Commission said it has fined Dutch brewers Heineken, Royal Grolsch and Bavaria a total of 273.8 million euros ($373 million) over cartel activites in the Dutch beer market in the late 1990s.

Heineken was fined 219.3 million euros, Grolsch was fined 31.7 million euros and Bavaria was sanctioned 22.9 million euros.

The commission said the companies held numerous unofficial meetings between at least 1996 and 1999, during which they coordinated prices and price increases of beer in the Netherlands.

The EU executive added that Belgian brewer InBev, although involved in the illegal activity, received no fines as it acted as the cartel whistleblower.

EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "It is unacceptable that the major beer suppliers colluded to hike up prices and carve up the market between themselves." "The highest management of these companies knew very well that their behaviour was illegal, but they went ahead anyway and tried to cover their tracks," Kroes added.

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