WOOLWORTHS (ASX:WOW) has been fined $9 million over its involvement in a laundry detergent cartel.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission commenced Federal Court proceedings against the retailer for contravening the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
Woolworths admitted to being knowingly concerned in an understanding between Colgate-Palmolive, Cussons Australia and Unilever Australia to supply ultra concentrate laundry detergents instead of standard concentrate in 2009.
Ultra concentrates sell for the same price per wash as the equivalent standard products, however the cost savings were not passed on to consumers.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims says the penalty is the largest the watchdog has obtained against an accessory to competition law breaches.
"By imposing these penalties, the court has acknowledged that Woolworths was knowingly concerned in an anti-competitive understanding which they admitted was reached between laundry detergent manufacturers," Sims says.
"This is a timely reminder that businesses must ensure that their competition law compliance programs educate their staff about the risks involved in communications or other conduct which facilitates an anti-competitive understanding between other businesses."
Colgate-Palmolive had to pay total penalties of $18 million earlier this year, which included $12 million in penalties for limiting the supply of laundry detergents.
The Federal Court also made orders by consent that Woolworth update its trade practices compliance program and pay a contribution of $250,000 towards the ACCC's costs in the proceedings.
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