A cartel is a collection of companies in a market that agrees not to compete, in order to earn higher profit. When companies form a cartel, they are breaking the law. And, when caught and convicted, can be subject to large penalties, and prison terms as long as 10 years in length. In the market for vitamins, such as vitamin C, the Swiss company Hoffman-Laroche paid a penalty of several billion dollars, which was actually less than the additional profit it made as a member of the vitamins cartel.