Price fixing allegations against Carter Holt Harvey

The Commerce Commission today filed proceedings in the High Court against Graeme Hart's forest products group Carter Holt Harvey (CHH) for price fixing in the Auckland timber market.

CHH entered into an understanding with Fletcher Distribution, which is part of Fletcher Building, to fix prices in respect of the supply of structural timber to commercial customers in Auckland, in breach of Part 2 of the Commerce Act. The understanding operated during the latter part of 2012 and early 2013, the Commission said.

Proceedings had also been filed against a CHH manager, Dean Dodds.

The commission said it had not filed proceedings against Fletcher Distribution because it had been granted immunity in accordance with its "cartel leniency policy".

"Fletcher Distribution discovered its involvement in the understanding earlier this year, made the commission aware of the situation, and cooperated with the commission's investigation," the commission said.

CHH and Dodds had also cooperated with the commission's investigation, and both had entered settlements with the commission in which they admit that their conduct breached the Commerce Act, it said.

A penalty hearing before the High Court will take place "in due course".

Section 30 of the Commerce Act makes price-fixing agreements between competitors unlawful. A company contravenes section 30 may be ordered to pay penalties under section 80 of the Commerce Act. The penalty can reach up to $10 million.


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