Big fines for trucking cartel
BIGGEST NAMES IN COUNTRY HAULED BEFORE COURTS FOR COLLUSION
A CARTEL revealed to be operating in the express freight industry came to a head in 1994 and dominated Big Rigs headlines.
In August, the Federal Court handed down record penalties against TNT and Ansett Transport for their part in a cartel that had been price- fixing and rigging market shares since at least 1987.
The three biggest companies in the express freight industry were accused of agreeing not to compete against, not to take customers and even to compensate the other company if a customer decided to change its provider.
The companies were also accused of forcing customers back to their original carrier through poor service and price rises.
TNT was fined $ 4.1 million for its role in the cartel after withdrawing its defence.
Ansett also withdrew its defence and was fined $ 900,000. The fines were later added to.
The third company that colluded in the cartel was Mayne Nickless, which elected to keep on fighting the accusations levelled against it.
At the time of the August 1994 fines, Trade Practices Commission chairman Professor Allan Fels told Big Rigs the companies’ actions represented the most sustained and systemic price fixing case ever to come before an Australian court.
TNT senior executive at the time David Mortimer was reported to have said the companies were sick and tired of the ongoing legal battle which was wasting the “valuable time of senior management”.
It began when a fourth company, Discount Freight Express, complained to the TPC about the collusion between the three companies.
Owner Greg Poach told Big Rigs the result had been a long time coming.
“Everybody in the industry has been affected for the last 30 years.
“The TPC initially began their investigations into unfair price fixing but by the end of the year, realised they were uncovering a cartel involving some of the biggest business names in the country,” Big Rigs reported on August 19.
The case didn’t come to a complete end until later that year, when Mayne Nickless accepted a $ 7.7 million fine ( with costs) rather than continuing to fight the case in court.