CAIRO: Twenty executives of Egyptian concrete-producing companies will be tried on criminal charges of price-fixing, it was announced Sunday.In July, Minister of Trade and Industry Rachid Mohamed Rachid requested that the Antitrust and Competition Protection Commission (ACPC) submit a report on the cement market and anti-competitive practices.
The ACPC report, issued after a 14-month investigation, alleges that the cement companies conspired to raise the price of Portland cement and restrict marketing of products in violation of the 2005 Customer Protection and Anti-Monopoly Law.
The general prosecutor’s statement, released Sunday, said the price of cement has reached LE 400 per metric ton, which is 30 percent more than two years ago. The price was LE 300 per metric ton in 2006 and LE 345 per metric ton in 2007, according to statistics of the Al-Amiriya Cement Company, one of 13 firms whose executives are suspected.
Other companies facing charges include Suez Cement and Tora Cement.The prosecutor’s office asserted the suspected executives held regular meetings during which they agreed to ”raise prices to exaggerated levels … to gain huge profit and also agreed on each company’s share in the market.”
If found guilty the companies will face fines of between LE 30,000 and LE 10 million.
The executives were not named in the statement and it was not immediately clear when the case would go to trial.
In a statement, Mona Yassin, chairperson of the ACPC, welcomed the decision.
“The ACPC has played its role very well in the cement study. It is trying by all possible means to stop any anti-competitive practices in the market in order to create a competitive environment, attract investment and achieve consumer welfare, the statement read.
Rachid said the ”prosecutor’s decision is considered a historic one in Egypt as the case is the first of its kind” to be investigated under the 2005 law, according to the official Middle East News Agency. -Additional reporting by AP