TransPacific unit pays $400k and dodges price-fixing case
by Paul McBeth
Dec. 3 (BusinessDesk) – Cleaning equipment company ERS New Zealand Ltd., a unit of TransPacific Industries Group, paid $400,000 to dodge a price-fixing prosecution, official documents show.
The country’s biggest provider of waste oil services reached an agreement with the Commerce Commission in June this year, according to the deed of settlement obtained by BusinessDesk under the Official Information Act.
The competition watchdog withdrew legal proceedings lodged in the High Court in March last year after ERS contributed to the commission’s costs and confirmed in writing that “directors and senior executives received further and updated competition law compliance training.”
In exchange, it avoided liability, though the commission’s public warning over the price-fixing may be referred to in any future breaches.
“ERS acknowledges that was unwise for it, through one of its directors, to discuss pricing issues in the manner captured in the transcript of the meeting,” the settlement said.
The regulator pursued the matter after a rival gave the commission a secret recording of a meeting with an ERS director, who discussed future price rises with the whistleblower.
The ERS board is made up of Trevor Coonan, Harold Grundell, Thomas Nickels and Terry Woods, all of whom were directors during the time of the investigation.
They were joined by former TransPacific chairman Terry Peabody, who retired in June this year, and former TransPacific Australasia CEO Greg Campbell, who left in August last year to head up Ngai Tahu Holdings.
Had the commission proceeded with its case, ERS faced a fine of up to $10 million for the company, and a maximum of $500,000 for individuals involved.
The Ministry of Economic Development is reviewing the government’s approach to price collusion, and is considering criminalising cartels.