New laws get tough on price fixers

Executives guilty of price fixing face jail for the first time, as stringent new laws are introduced

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has vowed to get tougher on price fixing, announcing new laws to jail executives for up to 10 years for cartel practices.

In an address to the American Chamber of Commerce yesterday, ACCC Chairman Graeme Samuel says it is time to get serious on rich companies who take advantage of the Australian system.

Although cartel activity has been outlawed in Australia for close to three decades, this will be the first time offenders will be jailed as well as fined for serious offences.

"In the case of serious cartel activity, no matter how fat your cheque book, nor to what lengths a corporation will go to defend the position of its executives, there is no amount of money that will remove the risk of you going to jail," Samuel says.

"A criminal cartel prosecution will not be negotiable – you will not be able to buy your way out of a criminal conviction and jail."

As well as being jailed, executive guilty of price fixing face being banned from being a company director or manager.

Business may also be subject to fines of either $10 million, three times the company’s gain, or 10 percent of group turnover depending which is the highest.

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