The Competition Commission on Thursday conducted a search and seizure operation at the Gauteng premises of particleboard and medium-density fibreboard manufacturers PG Bison and Sonae Novobord as part of an investigation into alleged collusion.
The commission said in a statement that it had obtained warrants from Pretoria’s North Gauteng High Court, authorising it to search the companies’ offices.
It further noted that it had reasonable grounds to suspect that the companies had engaged in collusive practices in contravention of the Competition Act. The search operation was conducted as part of an ongoing investigation into the two firms.
The commission seized documents and electronic data that would be analysed, together with other information gathered, to determine whether a contravention of the Competition Act had taken place.
In terms of Section 48 of the Competition Act, the commission was authorised to enter and search premises and seize documents that have any bearing on an investigation.
“Cartels are harmful because they result in high prices for consumers and reduce the incentive for firms to be innovative. It is for this reason that the investigation of cartels continues to be a priority for the commission. Should this investigation uncover evidence of collusion, we will prosecute the firms involved for contravening the Competition Act,” said Competition Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele.
PG Bison and Sonae Novobord are South Africa’s only manufacturers of particleboard and medium-density fibreboard. These are wooden products that are used in a variety of applications, including the manufacture of home and office furniture, built-in cupboards, kitchen units, coffins and shop fittings.