Milling firm fined R10m for price fixing
THE COMPETITION Commission yesterday welcomed a decision by the Competition Tribunal confirming its R10 million settlement agreement with Blinkwater Mills, a maize milling firm based in Middelburg, Mpumalanga.
Blinkwater has agreed to pay a fine amounting to R10 112 504 for colluding with other maize milling fir ms to fix the price of milled white maize as well as the dates when the new pricing would be implemented.
Milled white maize products include maize meal, samp, maize rice, maize flour and maize chop, which is a staple food for the majority of poor South Africans.
In terms of the settlement agreement between the commission and Blinkwater, the milling fir m admits liability and that it contravened the Competition Act by having agreed with its competitors to direct and indirect fixing of the selling price of milled white maize products, as well as agreeing to dates upon which these prices would be implemented.
The commission said the collusive conduct, which is in contravention of section 4 of the Competition Act, took place between 1999 and 2007.
The matter dates to 2007 when the commission initiated a complaint against Tiger Brands, Pioneer Foods, Foodcorp, Pride Milling and Progress Milling.
The complaint was first initiated when the commission received a corporate leniency application from Premier Foods in 2007, which was corroborated by a further leniency application filed by Tiger Brands in the same year.
In this matter, the commission has concluded settlement ag reements with Foodcorp, Pioneer Foods, Carolina Roller Meule, and Keystone Milling.
Tiger Brands and Premier Foods have been g ranted conditional immunity. At least 10 other milling firms have not yet settled with the commission.
Blinkwater has agreed to pay the fine in three instalments within a year which amounts to 5% of its annual turnover for the financial year ending in 2007. – ANA