Jail terms for price fixers coming

The newly sworn in Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen has arranged to meet Treasury officials this week to discuss bringing in criminal penalties for price fixers.

Laws that could have sent Visy chief Richard Pratt to jail were reportedly drafted by the previous government at the request of former treasurer Peter Costello, but shelved because of concerns from backbenchers.

Labor has promised to criminalise price fixing in its first year of government.

Graeme Samuel, chair of the ACCC, will be pleased. He has been one of the most vocal proponents of criminal penalties. Pratt’s Visy was fined $36 million for its cartel behaviour with rival Amcor, after admitting the illegal pact.

Samuel repeated his calls for jail terms for responsible executives last week when Qantas was fined $70 million for price fixing cargo costs for trans-Pacific flights.

Bowen’s spokesman told The Age yesterday the Government wanted to “see the detail” of the legislation, if it had been drafted. “Once the Government is confident that the draft legislation is ready, and strikes the right balance and is appropriate, then we will go ahead with employing it,” he said.


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