Big companies admit to price-fixing

Minister Ebrahim Patel says all the major construction companies are involved in the collusion.

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel delivers the keynote address at the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants conference at Kyalami Business Park in Johannesburg, Wednesday, 18 July 2012. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel on Thursday revealed that government received 400 admissions of collusion and price-fixing from companies in the South African construction industry.

The minister told delegates at a Construction and Project Management Conference in Midrand that the phenomenon has cost the state billions of rands in recent years.

He said the Competition Commission was investigating the cases and was preparing to hand down stiff financial penalties to the companies involved.

Patel said some of the biggest construction companies in the country were implicated in collusion and price-fixing.

"Some of the larger companies of course will have multiple instances or collusion. All the major construction companies are involved in this collision."

He said they are negotiating a fast-tracked settlement with all those involved.

"Given that it affected such a large number of companies in the industry, we introduced a fast-tracked settlement process."

Patel said the Competition Commission was wrapping up its investigation into the scandal.

The commission would publish the names of the companies and the amount of the money lost at a later stage.