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Wurst 'cartel' fined $460 million for price-fixing in Germany

The German sausage makers punished included Nestle subsidiary Herta, as well as Meica, Boeklunder, and Wiesenhof.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel holds up an original Thuringian grilled sausage, in 2009. German sausage makers are being fined by the German government for illegally colluding on prices.

Jens Meyer/AP/File

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Germany's antitrust authority has imposed fines totaling 338 million euros ($460 million) on 21 sausagemanufacturers for colluding on prices.

The Federal Cartel Office said Tuesday that the fines also included penalties against 33 individuals. The companies punished included Nestle subsidiary Herta, as well as Meica, Boeklunder and Wiesenhof.

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The cartel office says major sausage makers started colluding in 2003 to push through higher prices, agreeing on price ranges for various products. It says it was tipped off by an anonymous informant. Eleven companies decided to cooperate with authorities and admit wrongdoing.

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Cartel office chairman Andreas Mundt said the fines look high "but they are put into perspective by the large number of companies involved, how long the cartel lasted and the billions made in revenue on the market."