Colgate-Palmolive has been ordered by the Australian Federal Court to pay A$18 million after admitting it engaged in price fixing conduct, with the penalty the equal third largest issued by the court for cartel conduct.
Colgate admitted to entering understandings which limited the supply, and controlled the price, of laundry detergents, after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) launched court action against the company. The court described the conduct as serious and the penalty as significant but proportionate.
“By ordering these substantial penalties, the court has recognised the seriousness of this conduct, which affected the supply and pricing of laundry detergents, a consumer staple,” ACCC chair, Rod Sims, said.
“The information sharing understanding involved phone calls between senior managers of competing companies, many of which started as social calls, but turned to unlawful exchanges of pricing information. Any contact between competitors carries risk and while discussion of price is particularly serious, there are many topics which may lead to an anticompetitive understanding.”
“This is the equal third largest penalty that the court has ordered for breaches of the competition provisions of the Act and is an indicator of how seriously the court views the conduct,” Sims said.
“These penalties were based on Colgate’s turnover, under the current penalty regime for anticompetitive conduct. The ACCC regards this regime as a key tool in obtaining appropriate penalties for breaches of the Act,” Sims said.