Aussie firm fined $3.6m for NZ price fixing

VISA Board Pty, the Australian cardboard box maker, is paying $NZ3.6 million to settle a price-fixing case in New Zealand, having already been pinged for $A36 million for the same behaviour in Australia.

Visy has been ordered to pay a penalty of $3.6 million in the High Court in Auckland today, and its former senior executive John Carroll $25,000, for breaching the Commerce Act by being involved in price fixing, the Commerce Commission said.

The case involved some of the biggest customers in Australasia - covering tenders for Coca Cola and Goodman Fielder in 2001 and tenders for dairy cooperative Fonterra between April and July 2004.

As part of a pre-trial settlement, Visy admitted liability for its role in illegal arrangements with Amcor Ltd, a competitor, to divide these customers between them, in breach of the price fixing prohibition in the Commerce Act.

Carroll admitted being knowingly concerned in, or party to, Visy's conduct in relation to the Fonterra tender for corrugated fibreboard packaging.

"The commission is very pleased to have successfully resolved its long-running case against these defendants," said Chairman Mark Berry.

The Federal Court of Australia has already imposed penalties of A$36 million against Visy and A$500,000 against Carroll.

Both Visy and Carroll objected to the commission pursuing its claims in New Zealand.

In August 2012, the Court of Appeal ruled that the High Court had jurisdiction to hear the case taken by the New Zealand anti-trust regulator.

Visy will pay $50,000 towards the commission's costs. The penalty included a discount for Visy's admissions.



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