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CDPP v Alkaloids of Australia Pty Ltd [2022] FCA 1424

The offender was sentenced following pleas of guilty to 2 counts of giving effect to a cartel provision contrary to s 44ZZRG(1) of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) and Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) and 1 count of attempting to make a contract, arrangement, or understanding (CAU) containing a cartel provision contrary to s 44ZZRF(1) of the Trade Practices Act and s 79(1)(aa) of the Competition and Consumer Act. Additional cartel offences were taken into account under s 16BA.

Nature and Circumstances: Offending was committed over a substantial period, reflective of an ongoing course of anti-competitive conduct. Offending raised the price of SNBB which potentially affected customers around the world. Offending occurred over a very significant period and can only be characterised as deliberate, systematic, and coordinated. Offender was actively involved in policing and enforcing compliance with the CAUs. That offender did not give effect to the CAUs in every instance does not impact that characterisation. There was an ongoing course of conduct in respect to each CAU. Offending was covert in nature. Offending in count 3 is not as serious as that the subject of other counts, but it was nevertheless significant. The fact that it is not possible to quantify precisely the profit or other financial benefit derived does not lessen or mitigate the seriousness of offending. It is in the nature of cartel conduct to protect inefficiency and cause market distortions, even when the direct purchasers of goods and services are located outside of Australia. The CAUs were longstanding, had widespread effect, and aimed to reduce competition.

Contrition: The pleas are some evidence of offender’s contrition for offending. The statements in the letter to the court are self-serving and unable to be tested. The letter is premised on the basis that offending occurred because of a failure to monitor Joyce. It does not address the fact that offender had knowledge of what was happening in count 2. Some limited weight can be given to the expressions of contrition in that letter. There are reasonable prospects for rehabilitation.

Offender sentenced to pay a fine of $1,987,500.
The CSD acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as First Australians and recognises their culture, history, diversity and their deep connection to the land. We acknowledge that we are on the land of the traditional owners and pay respects to Elders past and present.

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