The Congress of South African Trade Unions is calling for the criminal prosecution of the senior executives of the beef processing companies Irvin & Johnson (I&J) and Karan Beef for their alleged cartel conduct.
This follows an investigation by the Competition Commission that discovered that from 2000 until recently, Karan Beef and I&J maintained a manufacturing agreement in terms of which Karan Beef would stop producing certain processed beef products for its own account and produce on behalf of I&J.
The commission’s recommendation that the competition tribunal only impose an administrative penalty of 10% of yearly turnover on I&J is an insult to the consumers who have been robbed. These companies just budget for this penalty money and then transfer the cost to the consumer as a way of recouping it.
COSATU is tired of seeing all these criminals that are responsible for cartel behaviour being allowed to pay silly minuscule amounts and then they allowed to go scot-free.
In 2016, the Competition Act was amended to criminalise the cartel conduct. This law is now clear that price fixing, market division and collusive tendering between actual and potential competitors can result in criminal liability for directors or managers.
Unfortunately the NPA has been too lenient in the prosecution of directors and managers. This needs to change if we are to win the battle against this criminal behaviour.
Any director or person who has management authority in a company that is involved in price fixing, market allocation or collusive tendering, should be held criminally liable without fear or favour.
We are also worried that the tendency by the Competition Commission to make submissions to the NPA in support of leniency on behalf of these criminals is a toxic strategy that weakens the capacity of our law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute these crimes.
The strategy of giving immunity to companies that co-operate with the commission does not act as deterrence and we believe that only prison will rehabilitate these criminals from their abhorrent behaviour.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794