The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) has today withdrawn criminal cartel charges against the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) and its ACT Divisional Branch Secretary Mr Jason O’Mara.
The charges related to allegations that the CFMMEU and Mr O’Mara attempted to induce suppliers of scaffolding services to enter into cartel arrangements regarding prices for scaffolding services provided to builders in the ACT in 2012 to 2013.
This case was investigated by the ACCC and referred to the CDPP, who made the initial decision to commence this prosecution and the subsequent decision to discontinue, based at all times on an application of the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth.
“In this case, the decision to withdraw was made in the context of the extended period of time which has elapsed since the alleged conduct occurred, and the challenges that posed for witnesses’ memories of relevant events,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
“While there can be challenges involved in bringing criminal cartel prosecutions, we will continue to place a high priority on deterring, detecting and dismantling cartels that can harm Australian consumers and businesses, and will continue to refer serious cartel conduct to the CDPP.”
The CDPP’s decision to withdraw the charges follows an earlier decision it made in February this year to withdraw similar charges against the CFMMEU and Mr O’Mara in relation to allegations involving steelfixing services.
The ACCC will not be making any further comment on this matter.
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 CDPP for consideration of prosecution.
The CDPP is responsible for prosecuting criminal cartel offences in accordance with the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth.
In August 2018, the CDPP laid criminal cartel charges against the CFMMEU and its ACT Division Branch Secretary, Jason O’Mara, for attempting to induce suppliers of scaffolding and steelfixing services to reach arrangements or understandings containing cartel provisions in relation to services provided to builders in the ACT in 2012 to 2013.
The allegations had earlier been aired before the Royal Commission into Trade Union and Governance and Corruption which reported in December 2015.
The criminal charges were brought by the CDPP after a joint investigation between the ACCC and the AFP as part of the AFP’s role in coordinating and contributing to the Joint Police Task Force following the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.
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