The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court, Sydney, against NSK Australia Pty Ltd (NSK) for alleged cartel conduct relating to the supply of ball and roller bearings for use in motor vehicles and industrial applications.

“The ACCC alleges that in 2008 and 2009, NSK and at least two of its competitors made and gave effect to two separate cartel arrangements in which they exchanged information about proposed price increases for the purpose of maintaining or controlling the price of bearings to their aftermarket customers,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

Ball and roller bearings are widely used to allow a movable connection between mechanical items. They are an essential component in a wide range of products such as motor vehicles, mining conveyors and farm machinery.

It is estimated that the Australian bearings market is worth over $300 million.

“Stopping cartel conduct is an ACCC enforcement priority as it causes harm to both consumers and to the competitive process,” Mr Sims said.

The ACCC is seeking pecuniary penalties, injunctions, and a compliance program.

NSK has cooperated with the ACCC’s investigation into the alleged cartel and has admitted to the conduct.

The case was brought following broader cooperation between competition agencies in the United States, Europe and Canada.

A directions hearing has been set down for 5 February 2014 at 9.30 am before Justice Edmonds in the Federal Court, Sydney.