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Tranz Rail a New Zealand Enron

15 July 2004

Tranz Rail a New Zealand Enron

The deliberate destruction of emails, legal action through to the Court of Appeal to stop the Commerce Commission looking at files and “unconvincing evidence” from Tranz Rail employees: it looks like a carefully managed conspiracy to prevent the Commerce Commission from getting to the truth. This is not the behaviour of a company with nothing to hide, says Road Transport Forum Chief Executive Officer Tony Friedlander, commenting on the Commerce Commission’s findings on the Forum’s complaint of predatory pricing by Tranz Rail towards competitor Cook Strait fast-ferry operator Top Cat.

“The Commerce Commission calls it ‘Enron-like destruction of corporate information’. We agree. It smells. We call on the Commerce Commission to refer this matter to the Police.

“Under the circumstances it is not surprising that the Commission could not find sufficient evidence of illegal activity to uphold the Forum’s complaint and had to close its investigation. But what the Commission did uncover was Tranz Rail’s own internal analysis which showed the cut rates they introduced on services running close to those of the Top Cat would cause a reduction in their own net revenue. That and other findings suggest illegal behaviour,” Friedlander says. “Within months the Top Cat was out of business and Tranz Rail was running a ferry from the same company that leased Top Cat its boat.

“The public has grounds to be very concerned about Tranz Rail’s disgraceful behaviour. The company has had an effective ‘toll gate’ on the Cook Strait and the Commerce Commission has discovered that Tranz Rail has gone to extreme lengths to protect that gold mine.

“The deliberate destruction of documents by senior management of a major company should be referred to the Police for further investigation as that type of disgraceful conduct should not go unpunished.”

ENDS

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