The proceedings against the so-called German beer cartel have taken a surprising turnaround. Carlsberg and its former German CEO Wolfgang Burgard, who were accused of illegal price agreements in 2007, looked for a long time as the real losers. All of the other accused parties had already reached a settlement. In June 2018, one day before the trial started, also Radeberger Group, the other last remaining accused party, withdrew its appeal and accepted the fine (inside.beer, 13.6.2018).
Last month the Attorney General made a closing statement and demanded before the Higher Regional Court in Düsseldorf a quadrupling of Carlsberg’s fine from EUR 62 million to EUR 250 million and an additional fine of EUR 300,000 for Burgard as personally responsible person. (inside.beer, 6.3.2019).
A court spokesman now said that on the basis of the results of the main hearing, the Senate had come to the conclusion that the persons concerned could only be accused of attempting to fix prices in March 2007. After that, no more antitrust votes were verifiable. Therefore, the absolute statute of limitations had already occurred in 2017 and the proceedings had to be discontinued. The Court thus followed the reasoning of the defence.
The Higher Regional Court in Düsseldorf therefore ruled that the proceedings against the Carlsberg brewery and its former head of Germany have to be discontinued due to the statute of limitations. The imposed fines of approximately 62 million euros have not to be paid and Carlsberg and Burgard will go unpunished.
However, Chief Public Prosecutor Dr. Daniel Vollmert is currently examining whether an appeal against the hiring decision can be lodged.