In our August update, we discussed the proceedings that had been commenced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in the Federal Court of Australia against BlueScope Steel Limited (BlueScope) and its former General Manager of Sales and Marketing, Mr Jason Ellis, for alleged cartel conduct. The action commenced by the ACCC concerned attempts by BlueScope and Mr Ellis to induce a number of steel distributors operating in Australia, as well as overseas manufacturers, to enter into agreements which contained a price fixing clause between September 2013 to June 2014. In that update, we noted that the ACCC had referred matters to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who would determine whether to bring criminal charges against Mr Ellis.
Since then, the DPP has decided not to commence criminal cartel proceedings against either BlueScope or Mr Ellis but it has decided to bring criminal charges against Mr Ellis for allegedly inciting the obstruction of Commonwealth officials in the performance of their functions in relation to the ACCC's cartel conduct investigation. This is an offence under the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) which carries a maximum term of two years' imprisonment per offence - Mr Ellis is charged with two offences.
See the ACCC’s press release here.