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ACCC Christmas Boost

Christmas came early to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) this year with the Treasury announcement of a $35 million boost to protect consumers from anti-competitive conduct.

The government announced that 16 additional investigators will be added to the competition regulator which will increase the number of prosecutions against cartel conduct.

Ten of those investigators will be focused on anti-competitive conduct and six of those will be focused towards the Cartel Unit.

The GRC Professional reached out to Bronwyn Gallacher from CCL Consultants for comment, who has been watching the developments of cartel conduct enforcement and changes of enforcement powers of the ACCC.

“This notable increase in funding for the ACCC will ensure that cartels investigations, which are complex as they involve the assessment of anti-competitive conduct of corporations and/or individuals generally over a long time period and can be across various markets and/or supply chains, can be conducted. It is important to remember that engaging in cartel conduct can result on jail time for individuals (up to 10 years) and significant financial penalties,” she explained.

Gallacher mentioned the record-breaking fine handed down to the Yazaki Corporation earlier this year of $46 million.

“The increase in funding sends a clear message to business - establish a Competition and Consumer Act Compliance Program (Compliance Program) to ensure the legal risks to a business, its employees, agents, contractors, and sub-contractors are mitigated. A Compliance Program should include a manual (outlining the legislation and case study scenarios of anti-competitive conduct), policies and procedures, face to face training, and access to a subject matter experts when conduct or behaviours of supply chains needs to be examined.”

Other related cartel news in 2018:

  • Kawasaki Kissen Kaisha was to be the simple second guilty plea in ongoing case investigation by the competition. In 2017, another Japanese company subject to the same investigation. Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK), plead guilty to a $25 million fine.

  • 2018 has also been the year for the legislated increase of the financial penalties for breaches in consumer law

  • Earlier this year, the ACCC announced that the action would be brought again senior executives from Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and ANZ related to cartel conduct.

“Implementing a Compliance Program will also be a step in the right direction to meet a number of the principles in the ISO 19600 Compliance Management System, include the culture principle,” Gallacher said.

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