Agribusiness & Food, Mining and Heavy Industries

Major fines, jail time in store for cartels

Australian competition watchdog Rod Sims has warned of a string of major cartel cases against high-profile businesses and executives in 2018, with multi-million-dollar fines and lengthy jail terms on the table.

Sims, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, told the AFR this week he expects the independent government commission to soon launch the first in a string of criminal cartel cases.

“2018 will be a very big turning point for cartel enforcement and cartel deterrence,” Sims was quoted as saying.

“We will very likely have three to four domestic-based criminal cartel actions in 2018. It is very unfortunate we need to take action against individuals but I think that is what is needed. We have had a criminal cartel unit going for a couple of years and it is starting to pay dividends.”

Australian legislation states executives found guilty of cartel conduct can face jail terms of up to 10 years.

Companies found guilty can be fined as much as 10% of their turnover, or up to three times the profit gained via the alleged conduct.

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