AUSTRALIA: Billionaire Pratt Faces Price-Fixing Charge

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Packet sniffers. Even though "cartel activity" sounds as though it could be etymologically related to the production of cardboard, The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has alleged that billionaire Richard Pratt--the chairman of paper recycling and packaging company Visy Industries--engaged in price fixing and market sharing in the cardboard box market.

The onetime actor--also known as the "cardboard king"--is said to be fond of capping off dinner parties and company functions with renditions of the Fiddler on the Roof ditty If I Were a Rich Man. But he rejected allegations of more serious fiddling in a joint statement with Visy Chief Executive Harry Debney on the company's Web site: "The ACCC has made allegations against Visy and against each of us personally. We reject entirely the allegations concerning our personal conduct. At no time have we approved or sanctioned any market sharing or price-fixing arrangement or understanding with Visy's competitors".

Pratt, Australia's third-richest man, is accused along with other executives of agreeing with Melbourne-based Amcor to fix prices in the country's corrugated box industry between 2000 and 2004. Visy, which strenuously denies anti-competitive behavior, says if the evidence shows breaches of the Trade Practices Act then the company will face the consequences.

Visy competitor Amcor and its former senior executives have been granted immunity from legal proceedings by the ACCC after it came forward with information about the alleged conduct. The immunity is conditional on Amcor's continuing cooperation.

AMP Section Name:Corruption