Displaying items by tag: Legal
Indonesia: State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno says that President Joko Widodo is expected to inaugurate Semen Indonesia’s Rembang cement plant in April 2017. Soemarno made the comments following a visit to the plant, according to the Jakarta Post. The inauguration of the plant is dependent on environmental clearance, which should be completed in April 2017. However, the plant has been the focus of intense protests by local farmers and both the Supreme Court and a local government ruled to shut down the plant.
Fiji: The Fiji Fish Marketing Group, a fish exporter, is taking legal action against two cement producers for transporting and offloading clinker. Pacific Cement and Tengy Cement Fiji with RPA Group Fiji, a transport company, have been accused of causing damage to the Fiji Fish Marketing Group’s property and its personnel, according to the Fiji times newspaper. Tengy Cement Fiji operates a cement plant in Lami near to the island capital Suva.
Philippines: The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) is preparing to investigate the cement industry for alleged violations of competitive practice. It says it has found reasonable grounds to proceed to a full administrative investigation on the cement industry for possible violations of Sections 14 and 15 of the Philippine Competition Act, according to the Philippine Star newspaper. This follows a legal statement by Victorio Dimagiba, a former trade undersecretary, in August 2016 accusing the Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CEMAP), LafargeHolcim Philippines and Republic Cement and Building Materials of engaging in anti-competitive agreements.
Dimagiba has accused the cement producers of striking illegal agreements including, “restricting competition as to price or components thereof or other terms of trade, abusing their dominant position by engaging in conduct that substantially prevents, restricts, or lessens competition, imposing barriers to entry, or committing acts that prevent competitors from growing within the market.” He has also alleged that Ernesto Ordonez, the head of CEMAP, has used the trade association to justify violating the Philippine Competition Act, as well as maintaining prices of domestic cement in the retail market ‘unreasonably’ high.
Ordonez responded to the claims saying that he was puzzled about the PCC’s decision and that CEMAP had not been informed about a preliminary inquiry.
Pakistan: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has found that Zeal Pak Cement dodged paying US$19.7m to the authorities via tax evasion and money laundering schemes. As well as underpaying tax on imports of cement the cement producer also sent money to Iran, according to the National Herald Tribune newspaper. The FBR was alerted to the malpractice mid-way through importing a 86,500t consignment of Ordinary Portland Cement that was subsequently impounded. Zeal Pak Cement is also accused of fabricating false invoices and other documents.
HeidelbergCement appeals against investigation by European Commission into purchase of Cemex Croatia28 February 2017
Croatia: HeidelbergCement has appealed against an investigation by the European Commission into the proposed joint purchase with Germany’s Schwenk Zement of Cemex Croatia. The cement producer asserts that by considering Schwenk and itself rather than Duna-Dráva Cement (DDC), a subsidiary that both companies own equally, the commission has given the transaction a ‘Union dimension,’ according to the Official Journal of the European Union. Although DDC is based in Hungary, within the European Union (EU), it imports cement into Croatia (in the EU) from Bosnia & Herzegovina, a country outside of the union. The appeal was made in late December 2016 but only reported in late February 2017.
The European Commission revealed that it was investigating the proposed acquisition of Cemex Croatia by HeidelbergCement and Schwenk in October 2016. The commission was concerned that the transaction would merge the biggest producer in the area with the biggest importer, potentially reducing local competition.
India: The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau, a corruption body in the state of Kerala, has arrested Prakash Joseph, a legal officer at Malabar Cements, in relation to a loss of US$0.4m. The state-owned cement producer signed a contract with a company owned by businessman VM Radhakrishnan to sell cement, according to the Hindu newspaper. Staff at Radhakrishnan’s company withdrew a deposit for the deal without the knowledge of Malabar Cements. Prakash Joseph allegedly misinformed his employers about the location of the court handling a legal challenge to the withdrawal. Radhakrishnan has previously been investigated by police in connection to corruption charges at Malabar Cements.
France: The French government has confirmed that it is investigating Lafarge over alleged illegal activities in Syria following European Union (EU) sanctions that were imposed in 2012. The Paris prosecutor's office said that a probe was opened in October 2016 after the French Ministry of Economy and Finance filed a complaint against the cement producer, according to the Associated Press. LafargeHolcim, the company formed from a merger between Lafarge and Holcim in 2015, said that it was, “in the process of establishing the facts concerning our activities in Syria.”
A group led by the non-government organisation (NGO) Sherpa filed a complaint in Paris against Lafarge for allegedly ‘financing terrorism’ in November 2016. The complaint accused it of maintaining commercial relations with the Islamic State group in Syria in 2013 and 2014 so it could continue operating a cement plant in the country.
At the time, Lafarge denied ‘financing so-called terrorist groups.’ The company said it had launched a ‘thorough and independent investigation’ into the allegations to determine whether its internal code of conduct had been properly followed and if procedures needed to be adapted. It said it would implement ‘any remediation measures required.’
Greece: The Labour Ministry has said that a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling on a group dismissal of workers by the Heracles General Cement Company in 2013 has supported the government’s position on the issue. The ministry has defended its current legislation on mass layoffs, saying that it should be modified not abolished, according to the Athens News Agency.
"We must first clarify that the court's decision does not concern the existing restrictions on mass dismissals, which are absolutely compatible with community law. The court's ruling is confined to the issue of the administrative advance approval of dismissals and the criteria taken into account by Greek authorities to make these decisions," said the labour ministry in a statement. It added that the ruling found that the Greek government was allowed to block mass layoffs under European Union law in certain circumstances.
Saudi Arabia: New legislation requiring cement exporters to pay tariffs of up to US$35/t is expected to reduce profits. The new import tax is also expected to compound problems for exporters created by restrictions linked to the gradual lifting of a ban on exports, according to Mubasher financial website. Cement producers are expected to be encouraged to focus on domestic sales instead. Financial analyst Jasim Al-Joubran of Al-Jazirah Capital has forecast low profits for the industry in 2016 due to low government spending. However, he added that sales are expected to recover in the fourth quarter of 2016 followed by a recovery in 2018.
Indonesia: Ganjar Pranowo, the governor of Central Java, is willing to shut down Semen Indonesia’s Rembang cement plant if the central government approves it. Ganjar made a statement in response to a protest staged by Rembang residents against the cement plant following a Supreme Court ruling in favour of the residents, according to Tempo magazine. He added that he has sought advice from the government including the presidential office, the Environmental Affairs Ministry and the Ministry of State Owned Enterprises. Ganjar has established a team to conduct a study and he has until 17 January 2017 to respond to the ruling.