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European Regulators Hand Record Fine to Elevator Cartel

European Union regulators have imposed their largest-ever price-fixing fine on five elevator companies involved in an illegal cartel.

The European Commission Wednesday announced a total fine of more than $1.25 billion for the European, American, and Japanese companies. Regulators said the firms rigged prices and bids in Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and the Netherlands for nine years beginning in 1995.

A German elevator maker, ThyssenKrupp, was fined $630 million, the heaviest fine ever given to a single company in a cartel case, because the company was a repeat offender.

European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said the cartel's price fixing, in her words, "artificially bloated" the construction and maintenance costs of buildings, including hospitals.

Kroes said the damage this cartel caused will last for many years.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.