Two mem­bers of fire car­tel pay penal­ties

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Roy Cokayne

TWO OF the seven fire com­pa­nies that were be­ing pros­e­cuted by the Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sion for en­gag­ing in car­tel con­duct have each agreed to pay hun­dreds of thou­sands of rands in penal­ties and to help the com­mis­sion to pros­e­cute the re­main­ing mem­bers of the car­tel.

Sipho Ng­wema, the head of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the com­mis­sion, said yes­ter­day that Fireco Gaut­eng and Afrion ad­mit­ted to en­gag­ing in price fix­ing, mar­ket divi­sion and col­lu­sive ten­der­ing, in con­tra­ven­tion of the Com­pe­ti­tion Act.

Fireco Gaut­eng has agreed to pay a fine of R909 000 and Afrion a R327 000 penalty, he said. Both com­pa­nies spe­cialise in sup­ply­ing, in­stalling and main­tain­ing fire-con­trol and pro­tec­tion sys­tems in South Africa and else­where in Africa.

Ngema said the com­pa­nies had fixed prices, di­vided mar­kets and ten­dered col­lu­sively when bid­ding for ten­ders to in­stall fire-con­trol and pro­tec­tion sys­tems in new and ex­ist­ing build­ings.

He said the agree­ment with the two com­pa­nies was a sig­nif­i­cant break­through in the pros­e­cu­tion of the other mem­bers of the car­tel.

The two com­pa­nies were among sev­eral fire-con­trol and pro­tec­tion sys­tems com­pa­nies that were re­ferred by the com­mis­sion to the Com­pe­ti­tion Tri­bunal for pros­e­cu­tion in March. The other com­pa­nies that were al­legedly part of the car­tel were Belfa, Cross Fire, Fire Pro­tec­tion Sys­tems, Fireco and Tsh­wane Fire Sprin­klers.

The set­tle­ment agree­ment fol­lows com­mis­sion in­ves­ti­ga­tors in March 2015 con­duct­ing dawn search-and-seizure raids at the premises of Belfa Fire, Cross­Fire Man­age­ment, Fire Con­trol Sys­tems, QD Air, Tech­no­log­i­cal Fire In­no­va­tions and Fireco.

The com­mis­sion’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that, from at least 1996 un­til 2015, the com­pa­nies en­tered into an agree­ment and/ or en­gaged in a concerted prac­tice to fix prices, di­vide mar­kets and act col­lu­sively in re­la­tion to ten­ders to in­stall fire-con­trol and pro­tec­tion sys­tems in new and ex­ist­ing build­ings.

The com­mis­sion fur­ther al­leged that the com­pa­nies con­cluded bi­lat­eral and mul­ti­lat­eral col­lu­sive agree­ments, which were im­ple­mented by ex­chang­ing cover quotes, shar­ing bills of quan­ti­ties and ex­chang­ing prices via tele­phone, fax, e-mail 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, the com­mis­sion said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.