The European Commission has fined Arkema, ICI, Degussa, Lucite, and Quinn Barlo a total of $443 million for participating in a cartel that fixed prices in the European methacrylates market between 1997 and 2002. ICI and Arkema had their fines increased by 50% because they were repeat offenders, according to the EC. Degussa, also identified as a repeat offender, received full immunity from fines for being first to provide the commission with information about the cartel. "I am shocked that companies like ICI and Arkema have been fined once again," says Neelie Kroes, EC competition commissioner. "These fines will serve as a 'cold shower' for the management and shareholders of all these companies." ICI, which was fined $117 million last week, already paid $14 million in fines for price fixing in the 1980s, according to a company official. The company says the new fines relate to the activities of ICI Acrylics, which the firm sold in 1999. Arkema, which is now independent following its recent spin-off from Total, was fined $281 million. The EC formally brought charges against the companies last year after a broad-ranging investigation into anticompetitive practices involving hydrogen peroxide, solvents, methacrylates, and polyvinyl chloride plasticizers.