Four chairmen of Polish sugar companies have been accused of employing cartel practices to force sugar prices up. The Office for the Protection of Consumers and Competition (UOKiK) is to launch anti-monopoly proceedings against the four chairmen.

The chairman stand accused of trying to force prices up by curbing output. In May, the four accused admitted plans to slow production down until prices rose to a level of PlZ2.10 (US$0.5) per kilo. As the four companies involved together control approximately 70% of the market, their actions could have had a huge impact on the market.

“Cartel agreements are one of the more horrible forms of blackmail against poorer players in the market place. In the USA one can go to prison for it, in Europe we can only use certain sanctions,” said UOKiK chairman Tadeusz Aziewicz at a press conference.

Depending on the outcome of the UOKiK investigation, fines equivalent to 10% of turnover could be imposed on the four companies, to a maximum of €5m (US$4.38m).