For more than six years a group of Italian tobacco processors ran a
secret alliance in which they colluded on prices and allocated
suppliers. In relation to public auctions, the group rigged their bids
to prevent competition. When the European Commission uncovered the
cartel, it fined the companies involved a total of euro 56 million. Two
trade associations representing tobacco processors and tobacco growers
were also fined for their involvement in the offence, albeit for
relatively small amounts. The harshest penalty was imposed on
Deltafina, which was fined euro 30 million. At the beginning of the
investigation the Commission had offered the company conditional
immunity for its cooperation. The company then proceeded to leak
information to the other members of the cartel about the investigation.
By doing so it breached its co-operation obligation and prejudiced
surprise raids carried out by the watchdog.

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