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Nelvin Tam discusses Australia's first criminal cartel case. This ACCC investigation serves as a warning that corporates should not undertake illegal activities such as collusion for the sake of profit making.
NYK has pleaded guilty in the Federal Court to charges of criminal cartel conduct. This followed an investigation by the ACCC. NYK is a global shipping group and operates in Australia as NYK Line (Australia) Pty Ltd.
This is the first criminal charge against a corporation under the criminal cartel provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act. It relates to alleged cartel conduct in connection with the transport of vehicles to Australia between July 2009 and September 2012.
A cartel is when businesses “make agreements with their competitors to fix prices, rig bids, share markets or restrict outputs are breaking laws and stealing from consumers and businesses by inflating prices, reducing choices and damaging the economy."
ACCC investigates cartel conduct and takes proceedings in the Federal Court in respect of civil cartel contraventions. Where a serious cartel conduct occurs, the matter is referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for prosecution as required by the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).
This case is a reminder that some commercial crimes, such as collusion, can have a significant impact to corporations. It is not clear whether any NYK directors are to be charged. Any director found guilty of criminal cartel conduct charges face up to 10 years in jail. Watch this space.
KordaMentha Forensic has experience in investigations of employee misconduct, including crime. Some matters have resulted in imprisonment. The message is simple: stay on the right side of the law!
ACCC website – definition of a cartel
ACCC website – media release
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