Alliance One Loses Appeal Over Spanish Tobacco Cartel Fines

Alliance One International Inc. (AOI) lost a challenge at the European Union’s top court over antitrust fines levied almost eight years ago for fixing the prices paid to Spanish tobacco growers.

The EU Court of Justice dismissed the company’s appeal in a ruling in Luxembourg today, upholding a 1.8 million-euro ($2.2 million) fine levied on Alliance One and a subsidiary in 2004 for their liability concerning another unit’s involvement in the cartel.

The commission, the EU’s antitrust regulator, levied a total fine of 20 million euros on five companies in October 2004 for price-fixing and production-sharing between 1996 and 2001 in the Spanish tobacco-processing market.

Alliance One and its unit appealed to the EU top court after a lower EU tribunal in 2010 upheld the fine against them.

The ruling means there is “no change to the 1.8 million euro fine paid in a prior period,” Morrisville, North Carolina- based Alliance One said in a statement distributed by PRNewsire.

The company has appeals pending against further fines, including a 24 million-euro penalty levied by the EU regulator for its joint liability with two units in another tobacco- related cartel.

The cases are: C-628/10 P, C-14/11 P, Alliance One International and Standard Commercial Tobacco v. Commission; Commission v. Alliance One International and Others.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Bodoni in Luxembourg at sbodoni@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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