Signed, sealed, delivered: EU regulators fine envelope cartel $24 million in time for holidays

Associated Press

The European Commission's top competition regulator has unveiled a settlement with five envelope-makers, fining them a total of 19.4 million euros ($24 million) for forming a cartel.

Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Thursday the fines levied against Sweden's Bong, France's GPV and Hamelin, Germany's Mayer-Kuvert and Spain's Tompla would benefit consumers, including "everyone who is writing Christmas cards."

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She may have meant cards of Christmases past: the cartel existed from 2003-2008. Vestager said the companies fixed prices at meetings they sometimes referred to as playing "mini-golf."

Vestager addressed other companies tempted to join a cartel, saying a single tip could launch an investigation, as happened to the envelope cartel.

In that case, the whistleblower didn't send an anonymous letter: "They were too expensive," she quipped.