BlueScope to face collusion claims
BlueScope Steel is being sued for allegedly colluding to rig steel prices.
The ACCC is taking BlueScope and one of its executive to court over allegations that the firm colluded with rival companies over the pricing of flat steel products.
The court will hear claims that the company induced steel distributors in Australia and overseas to sign contracts with price fixing clauses.
“BlueScope is the major manufacturer of flat steel products in Australia,” says Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Rod Sims.
“Flat steel products are an essential material in a number of important sectors of the Australian economy, including the construction, building, manufacturing, automotive and transport industries.
“This matter involves allegations of serious cartel conduct.”
The ACCC is seeking civil penalties for BlueScope Steel and to disqualify Mr Ellis from managing corporations.
The matter has also been referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP), which will consider criminal charges.
The ACCC makes such referrals if it considers the cartel conduct to be “serious”, “longstanding”, and could have caused “large scale or serious economic harm” or had a “significant impact on the market”.
BlueScope Steel has denied any wrongdoing.
“The ACCC has not alleged that an agreement was reached or that an agreement was implemented,” it noted.
“These are serious allegations and the board is treating them very seriously,” BlueScope chairman John Bevan said.
“Since becoming aware of the ACCC's investigation, we have constructively engaged with the ACCC and conducted our own internal investigation.
“While we have not seen all the evidence that has been relied on by the ACCC, based on what we know today, we do not believe that BlueScope, or any current or former employees, have engaged in cartel conduct.”