Eleven companies have been hit with 182 million euros ($A 265 million) in fines by a France’s Competition Authority.

Multi-national companies like Yoplait and Lactalis were among the eleven who stepped forward to take advantage of the offer of reduced punishments in return for admission of wrong-doing.

The companies admitted to price fixing and the creation of a surrogate cartel in response to rising milk prices and a falling euro.

The ruling by the French court determined that the companies acted in a monopolistic manner between 2006 and 2012. They agreed on pricing and supply volumes, and thus deceived the market.

Yoplait (majority owned by US parent company General Mills Inc.) was the first to come forward. By doing so it avoided all fines.

Lactalis wasn’t so lucky. It announced ti would not the contest the ruling, but would appeal the fine.

Reporters went into overdrive as company bosses revealed the shady deals being made during the six years of fraud. They described a web of surreptitious meetings in French cafes, disposable mobile phones, special phone lines and creative accounting to pay for it all.

Most of the CEOs were claimed they were forced into breaking the law by the sudden and exorbitant price increases thrust upon them by suppliers.

Regardless of the reasons behind their nefarious double-dealing the consumer still loses. As Amal Taleb, lawyer for the UFC Que Choisir consumer group, said, “Did you save your yoghurt receipts from 2011? Me neither.”

French authorities are cracking down on big-business fraudulent behaviour. Recent big-name culprits bought before the courts are US-based Colgate-Palmolive, Procter & Gamble, Sara Lee, and Anglo-Dutch firm Unilever.

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