Lying executives beware

2009-11-21 00:00

PRETORIA — The Competition Commission is proceeding with five cases of criminal prosecution, including charges of perjury, levelled at executives of listed companies.

These cases are the first criminal prosecutions by the commission during its existence.

Three cases of perjury were reported to the police and are under investigation.

Arthur Barnett, the suspended chief executive of Adcock, is under suspicion of having persisted with deception while aware that the commission was investigating his company’s affairs.

He has been accused of lying.

Another charge of perjury was lodged against a former Vodacom legal executive, Eleni Christodoulou.

The complaint arises from alleged false testimony given to the competition authorities during an investigation into a planned merger between Vodacom’s subsidiary, Vodacom Service Provider, and Global Telematics SA.

The Competition Tribunal has unconditionally approved the transaction, but has denounced the lies served up during the investigation.

Dave Lewis, the then chairman of the tribunal, took serious exception to the disrespect that ­Vodacom had displayed for the regulatory processes.

The competition report handed to the commission, giving the rationale for the transaction, differed entirely from internal documents that were not submitted to the commission.

In one of the documents, it was said that the strategic reason for the deal was to eliminate the competition presented by Global Telematics’ “aggressive discount strategy”.

Bertus Pretorius, a former Senwes grain merchant, was also charged with perjury. The company was found guilty of using uncompetitive practices to put its competitors’ profit margins under pressure.

Senwes has since lost its appeal against the decision.

 

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