The Competition Commission has referred eighteen companies to the Competition Tribunal for prosecution, and asked that they be fined 10% of each firm’s annual turnover.
The commission says the companies allegedly reached an agreement in 1995 to gave Automatic Sprinkler Inspection Bureau the exclusive right to render fire sprinkler inspection services.
The other companies allegedly agreed to only provide fire sprinkler installation services, and to only operate in the provinces where they are based. This alleged agreement contravenes the Competition Act.
The commission has been investigating the companies since 2014 and in 2017 conducted dawn raids on some of them.
“This investigation found that these companies had divided markets in contravention of the Competition Act,” the commission said in a statement on Monday. The alleged cartel mainly affected property owners and occupants of big commercial and public buildings.
Apart from Automatic Sprinkler Inspection Bureau, the companies include Belfa Solutions, Bhubesi Fire Projects, Centa KZN Sprinklers, National Security, Country Contracts, Cross Fire Management, Fire Check, Fire King, Fireco, IBR Fire Protection, Jasco Fire Solutions, Multi-Net Systems, Specifire, Sylvester Fire & Piping Services, TFMC, Tshwane Fire Sprinklers and Whip Fire Projects.
In February this year, Fireco admitted to cartel conduct and was fined an administrative penalty of R2.2 million.
The commission is a statutory body that investigates noncompetitive behaviour, while the tribunal adjudicates cases and hears appeals.