Tribunal to hear final arguments in fire protection 'cartel' case

The Competition Tribunal will on Wednesday hear closing arguments in the matter of three fire protection companies accused of cartel conduct involving tenders.
 
Belfa Fire, Cross Fire Management and Tshwane Fire Sprinklers are accused by the Commission of being part of a cartel that fixed prices, divided markets and tendered collusively in the market for the supply, installation and maintenance of fire control and protection systems in new and existing buildings.

The Commission alleges that the cartel operated between 1996 to 2015 and that the collusive conduct involved different bilateral and multilateral agreements in terms of which companies exchanged cover prices for various tenders.

An investigation by the Commission found that the fire companies exchanged cover quotes, sharing bills of quantities and exchanging prices through telephone, faxes, emails and occasional meetings.

The companies had also agreed to "respect" each other's allocated customers by not bidding competitively for tenders issued by those customers.

Afrion Property Services, Fire Protection Systems and Fireco Gauteng (now known as KRS Fire) earlier admitted to involvement in cartel conduct and agreed to pay administrative penalties, among others, as part of their respective settlement agreements with the Commission.   
 
Fin24 reported in June 2017 that, in their respective settlement agreements, Fireco Gauteng and Afrion admitted that they engaged in price fixing, market division and collusive tendering in contravention of the Competition Act. Fireco Gauteng agreed to pay an administrative penalty of R909 000, while Afrion agreed to pay R327 000.

The two companies had also undertaken to assist the Commission in prosecuting the rest of the companies.

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