AfriSam fined R125m

2011-11-01 14:49

The Competition Commission has penalised cement producer AfriSam with a R125 million fine for being involved in a cartel.

The penalty represents 3% of AfriSam’s 2010 cement turnover in the Southern African Customs Union countries, which include South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia.

AfriSam had entered into agreements and arrangements with Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC), Lafarge Industries SA and Natal Portland Cement Cimpor (NPC-Cimpor) to divide markets and indirectly fix the price of cement.

“This settlement is a reflection of AfriSam’s material cooperation with the commission in uncovering and providing further information on the conduct,” said the Competition Commission.

“This agreement follows the commission’s investigation of price fixing and market allocation against four main cement producers: PPCC, Lafarge Industries SA, AfriSam and NPC-Cimpor.

The case – initiated in June 2008 – saw the commission raiding the premises of the four cement producers on 24 June 2009.

“Subsequently, PPC applied for leniency and confirmed the existence of a cartel among the four cement producers,” a statement read.

The commission said AfriSam has agreed never to be involved in anti-competitive conduct and promised to conduct and to develop and implement a compliance programme for all its employees.

“The commission is at an advanced stage of this investigation and will now look at concluding it with AfriSam and PPC’s cooperation. The commission has filed an application for the confirmation of this settlement agreement with the Competition Tribunal,” read the statement.

AfriSam released a statement confirming the penalty.

“We cooperated fully with the Competition Commission investigation,” said Stephan Olivier, Afrisam’s chief executive.

“To facilitate this process we conducted a systematic and comprehensive review of some of the company’s business practices from a competition law perspective. We reported certain historical practices to the Commission,” said Olivier.

“We are saddened and embarrassed by what has happened. I would like to say categorically that the AfriSam of today is an honourable and ethical company,” he said.

“I know that our people are fully committed to rigorous compliance with competition law. I have nevertheless made it clear that we will take swift action if there is the slightest suspicion of anti-competitive behaviour in the organisation.”

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