Metal packaging manufacturers Crown and Silgan have been fined a total of €31.5m ($31.7m) by the European Commission (EC) for their participation in a German cartel.

The companies have admitted to having been active in the cartel, which concerned the sales of metal cans and closures in Germany.

The commission found that Crown and Silgan were involved in the two-part infringement between 2011 and 2014.

During this period, the companies regularly exchanged detailed data on their latest annual sales volumes of metal closures to their individualised customers in Germany.

In addition, Crown and Silgan worked together to impose a surcharge and implement shorter minimum durability recommendations regarding metal cans and closures coated with Bisphenol A (BPA) free lacquer.

This investigation was initiated by the German antitrust authority in 2015 and later transferred to the EC in 2018.

EC executive vice-president Margrethe Vestager, who oversees competition policy, said: “Metal food cans and closures are part of every household’s pantry.

“We fine today Crown and Silgan for illegally exchanging sensitive business information and coordinating their commercial strategies at a time when the industry has been transitioning towards less harmful metal cans and closures.”

Both companies confessed to their involvement and agreed to settle the case, with Silgan agreeing to pay a fine of €23.85m.

The EC has agreed to fully close its investigation.

Silgan president and CEO Adam Greenlee said: “After seven long years of working with and supporting this investigation, we felt it was in the best interests of Silgan to enter into this settlement to end the investigation.

“Silgan has cooperated with the European Commission throughout this investigation, and the time has come to stop incurring costs and expending valuable management time on this matter that dates back to 2015.”

Earlier this year, Crown reported $3.16bn in net sales for the first quarter (Q1) of the fiscal year 2022 (FY22).