Greece fines local branches of J&J and Colgate-Palmolive for allegedly breaching a profit cap

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek authorities on Wednesday announced fines totaling 1.67 million euros ($1.81 million) on the local branches of two U.S.-based health care and consumer products giants for alleged breaches of a profit cap imposed amid Greece’s cost-of-living crisis.

The Development Ministry said Johnson & Johnson Hellas was fined 1 million euros and Colgate-Palmolive Hellas 672,000 euros. It didn’t provide further details on the alleged breaches.

The fines were imposed under a law adopted in July that caps gross profits for a broad range of key consumer goods and services — mostly in the food and health sectors — until the end of 2023. The law stipulates that the gross profit per unit cannot exceed that from before Dec. 31, 2021.

Successive polls have identified the cost-of-living crisis, largely triggered by the war in Ukraine, as a major concern for most Greeks, with the overwhelming majority saying it has forced them to reduce purchases of basic goods. Together with food and other consumer products, housing costs in Greece have risen sharply.

The issue has piled pressure on the center-right government, which secured a second term in a landslide election victory in June.

Development Minister Costas Skrekas said Wednesday that fighting high prices was “a top government priority,” and promised constant market checks to ensure the profit cap is implemented.

On Nov. 2, the ministry fined the Greek branches of Procter & Gamble and Unilever 1 million euros each for allegedly breaching the gross profit cap.

October’s rate of inflation was 3.4% on the year, according to the country’s statistical authority, down from 9.1% a year earlier.

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