The Federal Court in Adelaide has today ordered a penalty of $1.35 million against Japanese cable supplier Viscas Corporation in respect of bid rigging and price fixing conduct in proceedings brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The penalty follows Viscas admitting that, in September 2003, it reached an anti-competitive arrangement with other Japanese and European suppliers of land cables in relation to an invitation to tender issued by Snowy Hydro Limited. The terms of the arrangement were that:
- Of the parties to the arrangement who submitted a tender, the tenderer with the lowest price would be one of the European suppliers; and
- The European suppliers would decide between themselves who would submit the lowest price.
Viscas acknowledged to the Court that this arrangement arose out of an overarching arrangement in relation to the allocation of projects involving those Japanese and European suppliers of land cables.
“This is yet another example of the ACCC obtaining a substantial penalty in relation to alleged cartel conduct,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“Cartels damage the economy often raising prices for local businesses and consumers and hurting those businesses that play by the rules. It is crucial for the ACCC to continue to tackle cartel conduct, whether Australian or foreign based, with the full force of the law.”
In his judgment Justice Lander stated that “Conduct of the kind which Viscas has agreed that it engaged in is difficult to detect and difficult to establish. When it is established, any penalty imposed should be significant so as to deter any other corporation engaged in trade or commerce from engaging in the same conduct.”
Justice Lander also made orders restraining Viscas from engaging in similar conduct for a period of 3 years and requiring it to pay a contribution of $50,000 towards the ACCC’s costs.
Although the proceedings against Viscas have been resolved, the proceedings are continuing against two foreign corporations, Prysmian Cavi e Sistemi Energia S.R.L, and Nexans SA.