BRUSSELS - The European Commission said on Wednesday that it was fining banana importers Dole and Del Monte 60 million euros ($82 million) for running an illegal price-fixing cartel.
Europe's top antitrust watchdog accused the companies, along with Chiquita, of discussing prices and their pricing intentions in weekly phone calls between 2000 and 2002.
While Dole was ordered to pay 45.6 million euros for its role and Del Monte/Weichert was fined 14.7 million euros, Chiquita escaped a penalty because it tipped off authorities about the cartel.
"European consumers spend significant sums on bananas every year," Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement.
"It is totally unacceptable for companies to have rigged prices in this manner and the companies concerned must learn the hard way that the commission will not tolerate such behaviour," she added.