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BlueScope Denies ACCC Cartel Claims

Steel News - Published on Tue, 24 Mar 2020

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Sydney Morning Herald reported that BlueScope Steel has denied the competition regulator's claims that it engaged in cartel conduct over prices, rejecting allegations that a former executive had tried to induce agreements with other steel businesses. In a defence filed in the Federal Court, BlueScope dismissed claims that former executive Jason Ellis had made particular comments at meetings with a number of companies about how to set flat steel prices. As well as denying that such comments were made, the company said that if the alleged words were said those words did not carry within their terms the potential for an arrangement or understanding.

BlueScope also flatly denied allegations contained in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's statement of claim that its current CEO, Mark Vassella, was aware of certain aspects of the alleged cartel behaviour. According to the company, the regulator's claim was embarrassing and liable to be struck out.

The ACCC had alleged that Mr Vassella's awareness of certain aspects stemmed from a number of points, including "presentations made by Ellis to Vassella between at least October 2013 and April 2014 in which Ellis recorded words to the effect that BlueScope intended to increase the profitability of Australian Steel Distributors by attempting to set a price floor at which they sold Flat Steel Products".

Mr Vassella was a senior BlueScope executive at the time but not the group's overall CEO.

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Posted By : Rabi Wangkhem on Tue, 24 Mar 2020
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