It was “very important” that the issue of possible bid-rigging and collusion between construction companies was resolved quickly in an open and transparent manner, said Aveng CEO Roger Jardine on Friday.
“The stakes are high. This is about our society and how we do business – it’s about the values we want to see in our country.”
He added that the construction industry was an important sector of the South African economy, employing 400 000 people, and that a quick resolution could benefit an already embattled sector facing revenue declines as government’s project roll-out had slowed over recent months. He added that it was important that government’s infrastructure spending continued.
“It is very important that we put the facts on the table and that we stop the speculation.”
Subsidiaries of the Aveng engineering and construction group were named by the Competition Commission this week as being among several construction companies to have participated in bid rigging and collusion, possibly inflating the costs of some major projects.
On February 1, the commission announced that it had found evidence of unlawful conduct during a probe of 65 bid-rigging cases in the wider South African construction industry, implicating over 70 projects with an estimated value of R29-billion. It also offered a "fast-track settlement" process for companies willing to disclose any known irregular practices.
Jardine said that Aveng remained committed to fully cooperating with the commission and to ensuring that its employees, management and directors refrained from prohibited practices.
He emphasised that Aveng has, however, put in place a new generation of leadership, with, for example, only three of the nine people named in one case remaining with the company.
Jardine himself has only been with the company less than three years, and is a relative newcomer to the construction industry.
“We won’t play cat and mouse. If we need to do an admission of guilt, we will deal with it.”