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Competition watchdog to get sharper teeth

Apr 21 2016 18:46
Liesl Peyper
Cape Town -  The Competition Commission will from May 1 this year have sharper teeth to deal with companies who collude and are guilty of cartel behaviour, according to Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel.
“Government will tomorrow gazette a Presidential Proclamation that brings into effect certain sections of the Competition Amendment Act, which will make it a criminal offence for directors or managers of a firm to collude with their competitors to fix prices, divide markets among themselves or collude in tenders or to acquiesce in collusion and they expose themselves to time in jail if convicted.”
In a media briefing ahead of his budget vote on Thursday afternoon, Patel said his department, which oversees the activities of the Competition Commission and Competition Tribunal, wants to step up its actions against anti-competitive behaviour so that the private sector can  “re-engineer” their operations and see colluding as a huge disincentive.
Patel said current leniency provisions in competition laws - according to which companies who blow the whistle on cartel activities or cooperate with investigations get off with a lighter sentence - would still prevail.
"While criminal charges can be conducted on racketeering we want to make sure the prosecutorial authorities have a very clear and firm guidance from the law that allows them to meet the test of legality," said Patel.
He cited a recent World Bank study on competition in South Africa, which found that cartels and abuse of market dominance results in high prices to the disadvantage of ordinary citizens.



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