Australia: The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has filed an appeal against a US$12.6m fine against Cement Australia, which it views is too low. On 16 May 2016 a Federal Court published orders imposing a penalty of US$13.7m on the cement producer. One order was then set aside, reducing the fine to US$12.6m. However, the ACCC contends that a penalty of over US$66m is more appropriate for the breaches of Australia’s competition legislation.
“The ACCC will argue to the Full Court that the penalties imposed on Cement Australia are manifestly inadequate, and not of appropriate deterrent value,” said ACCC Chairman Rod Sims. He added that suitable financial penalties were considered ‘essential’ as a deterrent to anti-competitive conduct and to prevent businesses viewing such behaviour as an acceptable cost of doing business.
The proceedings relate to contracts that were entered into by Cement Australia companies between 2002 and 2006 with four power stations in South East Queensland, to acquire fly ash. The court found numerous contraventions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. It also fined Christopher White, a manager in the Cement Australia fly ash business during the relevant period, a penalty of US$14,700 for his involvement in making the contravening contracts with the operator of the Swanbank power station in 2005.