The Competition Commission's investigation into alleged new car price fixing by manufacturers has uncovered further evidence of alleged contraventions, a report claims.

The Competition Commission's investigation into alleged new car price fixing by manufacturers has uncovered further evidence of alleged contraventions (of the Competition Act), a report claims.


Zodwa Ntuli, the manager of the legal body's compliance division, told that "from the evidence at hand", the commission expected a number of referrals to the competition tribunal related to minimum resale price maintenance in the motor industry "within the next few months".


Ntuli stressed that only the tribunal had the power to pronounce on contraventions of the Competition Act. "However, if the parties consent, there is no need to refer to the tribunal if we can obtain through a consent agreement what we ask for in the tribunal," she said.


The commission would release individual reports once it had decided to refer matters to the tribunal "or, where applicable, once it has concluded consent agreements with the parties".


Ntuli added that a decision to refer a matter to the tribunal would not in itself be a finding that there was a contravention of the act. “If the parties decide to consent to the unlawfulness of their conduct, the tribunal may confirm the consent agreement as an order. Similarly, where we find no evidence of a contravention, we will release the names of those that are innocent," she added.


Reaching consent agreements with parties guilty of contravening the prohibition on minimum resale price maintenance in the Competition Act would be identical to the process followed with Toyota South Africa. (The Prospecton-based company agreed to pay a R12 million administrative penalty and discontinue the practice of maintaining minimum resale prices).


Ntuli said the commission had to date interviewed about 120 individuals, varying from sales executives to dealer principals.


She said one of the focuses of the investigation was on resale price maintenance and the commission "may interview even more people to prove other allegations, such as collusion. If needs be, we may search premises to get the evidence we need."


Ntuli confirmed that commission investigators had also met representatives of "about two local manufacturers as well as two importers of motor vehicles", and its inquiries were continuing.


"But it must be noted that we will not necessarily interview or meet with manufacturers when we can find information elsewhere in the industry. Those that we really need to interview will be interviewed shortly," she added.


Ntuli said the commission hoped to be ready with its findings in the next six to eight weeks.

Original article from Car