In July 2017, the Federal Court ordered electrical cable manufacturer Prysmian to pay a $3.5 million penalty for its role in a global cartel between Japanese and European cable suppliers.
It followed action launched in Australia by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) over allegations cartel conduct had affected the supply of high voltage cables and accessories to works occurring at the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme back in 2003.
But in March this year, Prysmian sought special leave to appeal the judgement in the High Court of Australia.
The High Court this week dismissed Prysmian’s application and upheld the original finding that the global giant had entered into agreements with competitors covering price guidance and project allocation.
“The High Court’s decision not to hear this appeal finalises this litigation, with the result that the original findings of cartel conduct and the penalties imposed against Prysmian apply,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said following the verdict.
Prysmian Group Australia has been contacted for comment.
ACCC denounces ‘detrimental’ impacts of cartels
According to Mr Sims, cartel behaviour between businesses – particularly larger market players – causes serious financial harm that ultimately impacts customers and other stakeholders.
“Cartel behaviour, such as price fixing and market sharing, undermines competition and increases the prices for customers and taxpayers,” he said.
“The ACCC will always prioritise investigation of cartel conduct causing detriment in Australia.”
The competition watchdog currently has a number of other proceedings under way for cartel conduct.
Listed clinical trials and storage company Cryosite stands accused of cartel conduct relating to conditions attached to the sale of assets to its major competitor, while Japanese shipping company K-Line pleaded guilty in April this year and is awaiting sentencing in November.
Arguably the most prominent case currently being prosecuted involves banking giants ANZ, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank, which in June this year were revealed to face criminal charges relating to the trading of ANZ shares.