A large multinational corporation has been ordered to pay fines totaling $2.5 million over a scheme to fix the price of hydrogen peroxide in Canada.

Solvay Chemicals Inc. pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy charges in Federal Court Wednesday.

An investigation by Canada's Competition Bureau found that Solvay had conspired with other companies to fix the price of hydrogen peroxide between July 1998 and December 1999.

During that time, Solvay's sales of hydrogen peroxide amounted to about $15 million.  

The chemical is used as a bleaching agent in the pulp and paper industry.

Solvay Chemicals Inc. is part of the Solvay Group, which reported net earnings of US $797 million in its 2009 annual report.

"Price-fixing is a crime that deprives consumers and businesses of lower prices and product choice," said Melanie Aitken, Canada's Commissioner of Competition.

"Eliminating illegal cartels continues to be a top priority of the bureau," she said.

This is the second charge laid in the price-fixing conspiracy.

In November 2008, Akzo Nobel Chemicals International BV pleaded guilty and was fined $3.15 million.

Akzo Nobel reported US $6.9 billion in gross profits last year.

Penalties for price-fixing in Canada can include fines of up to $25 million and prison terms of up to 14 years.

At the time of the price fixing the maximum fine was $10 million.

The Competition Bureau says its investigation is continuing and more companies may face charges.