In The News South Africa

Competition Commission welcomes High Court ruling on margarine manufacturers cartel case

JOHANNESBURG, March 16 (ANA) – The Competition Commission on Thursday welcomed the outcomes of the proceedings in the High Courts in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng Divisions which prevented edible cooking oils and baking fats manufacturers accused of cartel conduct from effectively stopping the Commission’s investigation against them.
DH Brothers Industries, trading as Willowton Oil and Cake Mills, approached the High Court KZN Division in Pietermaritzburg on at the beginning of the month seeking an order interdicting the Commission from reviewing the evidence it seized in their offices.
The court ruled in favour of the Commission dismissing this application with costs and paving the way for the Commission to review the seized evidence as part of the investigation.
Wilmar Continental Edible Oils and Fats also approached the High Court Gauteng Division last week seeking an order interdicting the Commission from reviewing the evidence it seized in their offices.
The court ruled in favour of the Commission to allow the Commission to review the hard copies seized during the raid last year.
The Commission conducted the search and seizure operation in December 2016 as part of its investigation of the alleged cartel by the five manufacturers of refined edible cooking oils, baking fats and margarine in South Africa.
The Commission maintains that it has reasonable grounds to suspect that Willowton, Wilmar, FR Waring Holdings, Africa Sun Oil Refineries, and Epic Foods are engaged in cartel conduct which includes price fixing.
All of the companies, except Epic Foods, have approached the High Courts in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in a bid to interdict the Commission from reviewing the seized documents.
Africa Sun Oil is the latest firm to approach the High Court KZN Division in a bid to interdict the Commission from reviewing the seized documents.
The Commission said it would file its answering papers with the High Court KZN Division on Monday in order to oppose Africa Sun Oil application to interdict the Commission.
The Commission also said it would be filing its intention to oppose the application by FR Waring to set aside the search and seizure warrant by Wednesday in the High Court KZN Division.
Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele said in a statement that the Commission obtained the search and seizure warrants from the High Courts in KZN and Gauteng Divisions in terms of section 46 of the Competition Act.
“The search and seizure operation was conducted with due regard to the rights of all the affected persons,” Bonakele said.
“We will therefore not be swayed in our efforts to clamp down on the exploitation of consumers by cartels, particularly in the food and agro-processing sector.”
– African News Agency (ANA)

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