Sunday, April 14, 2024

Commerce Commission campaign hits cartels in hip pocket

Businesses are being reminded that agreements they reach with their competitors can result in imprisonment, in the latest education campaign from the Commerce Commission.

The ‘Scene of a Crime’ campaign shows examples of situations where competitors agree to fix prices, divide markets, and rig bids – all of which are illegal activities.

The financial penalties for cartel conduct are significant ‒ individuals can be fined up to $500,000 and companies can be fined up to $10 million, three times the commercial gain, or 10% of turnover per year per breach. Since April 2021, businesses and individuals can also be liable for criminal conviction and individuals convicted of engaging in cartel conduct could face imprisonment.

“Cartel conduct harms consumers through higher prices or reduced quality, and it harms other businesses that are trying to compete fairly,” said Commerce Commission Chair, Anna Rawlings.

“The possibility of imprisonment for cartel conduct underlines just how serious and harmful this offending is.”

Law changes introduced last year mean individuals involved in cartels can now be liable for a term of imprisonment of up to seven years.

The Commission is running an online, social media, and radio campaign to help educate directors, business owners, managers and employees about cartels, and how to report cartel conduct to the Commission.

“Businesses and their staff need to be able to recognise and avoid the kinds of business conduct that amount to cartel conduct. This campaign is part of a range of educational initiatives by the Commission to help increase businesses’ understanding of cartel conduct and its consequences,” says Ms Rawlings.

Businesses or individuals wishing to report cartel conduct can contact the Commission. The Commission can grant leniency to the first member of a cartel to approach it, provided they meet the requirements for leniency.

Businesses and individuals can also use the Commission’s anonymous whistleblower tool.

More information is available on the Commission’s website.

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