Pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturer pleads guilty to criminal cartel charges

Pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturer pleads guilty to criminal cartel charges

An Australian company that produces a pharmaceutical ingredient used in anti-spasmodic medication has today pleaded guilty to criminal cartel conduct in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court.

Alkaloids of Australia pleaded guilty to three charges and admitted a further seven offences involving price fixing, bid rigging and market allocation cartel arrangements with other overseas pharmaceutical ingredient suppliers.

The news comes just weeks after Alkaloids of Australia’s former export manager Christopher Kenneth Joyce also pleaded guilty to criminal cartel charges relating to the same conduct.

“Businesses that coordinate on prices, markets or bids for tenders should know that they are engaging in illegal cartel conduct. This type of conduct unfairly disadvantages other businesses and drives up prices for consumers,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chair Rod Sims said.

“The ACCC is committed to pursuing these challenging investigations to detect and dismantle cartels and refer serious cartel conduct for prosecution.”

The charges relate to an ACCC investigation into the conduct which continued over a period of almost ten years from July 2009, when criminal cartel laws came into force in Australia.

Following the investigation, the ACCC laid 33 criminal cartel charges against Alkaloids of Australia and Kenneth Joyce in December 2020.

Alkaloids of Australia has been committed to the Federal Court of Australia for sentencing, and the matter is next listed for a case management hearing on 25 November 2021.

For Alkaloids of Australia, the maximum fine for each criminal cartel offence is the greater of:

  • $10 million,
  • Three times the total benefits that have been obtained and are reasonably attributable to the commission of the offence, or
  • If the total value of the benefits cannot be determined, 10 per cent of the corporation’s annual turnover connected with Australia.

An individual convicted of a criminal cartel offence may be sentenced to up to 10 years’ imprisonment or fined up to $444,000, or both.

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