Action against BlueScope for alleged cartel conduct

30 August 2019

The ACCC has instituted civil proceedings in the Federal Court against BlueScope Steel Limited (BlueScope) and its former general manager sales and marketing, Mr Jason Ellis, for alleged cartel conduct in relation to the supply of flat steel products.

The ACCC alleges that between September 2013 and June 2014, BlueScope and Mr Ellis attempted to induce various steel distributors in Australia and overseas manufacturers to enter agreements containing a price fixing provision. 

It is alleged that BlueScope and Mr Ellis attempted to induce agreements with BlueScope’s competitors, to fix and/or raise the level of pricing for flat steel products supplied in Australia. 

“BlueScope is the major manufacturer of flat steel products in Australia. Flat steel products are an essential material in a number of important sectors of the Australian economy, including the construction, building, manufacturing, automotive and transport industries,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

The ACCC is seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties and costs against BlueScope and Mr Ellis, as well as an order disqualifying Mr Ellis from managing corporations.

“This matter involves allegations of serious cartel conduct,” Mr Sims said.

Given the six year limitation period for taking civil proceedings for certain of the alleged conduct was about to expire, the ACCC has determined it is appropriate to commence such proceedings against BlueScope and Mr Ellis.

The ACCC has been working closely with the CDPP in relation to the matter and the CDPP’s consideration of the matter is continuing. Given these circumstances, the ACCC will not be making any additional comment at this time.

Background

The ACCC investigates cartel conduct, manages the immunity process, takes proceedings in the Federal Court in respect of civil cartel contraventions, and refers serious cartel conduct to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) for consideration for prosecution.

The CDPP is responsible for prosecuting criminal cartel offences, in accordance with the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth. 

Anyone with information about any cartel conduct is urged to call the ACCC Cartel Hotline on (02) 9230 3894 or email cartelimmunity@accc.gov.au 

Release number: 
157/19
ACCC Infocentre: 

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Media enquiries: 
Media team - 1300 138 917

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