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15 construction firms fined

The Competition Commission of South Africa slapped the companies with a collective R1.5bn fine.

FILE: Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - Fifteen construction firms have been fined almost R1.5billion for price-fixing and collusion, the Competition Commission of South Africa revealed on Monday.

Industry heavyweights Aveng and Murray & Roberts reached an agreement with the commission to disclose information in exchange for lighter penalties.

The fine follows an investigation led by Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel to rid the industry of corruption.

The consumer watchdog had been investigating 65 bid-rigging cases in the sector dating back to 2009.

Some of the cases involve infrastructure projects worth R30billion.

Deputy commissioner Trudi Makhaya said the next step would involve public hearings, where settlements would be scrutinised.

Makhaya says the commission deals with the company as an entity and doesn't impose penalties on individuals.

"We don't impose criminal sanctions. Other agencies can deal with the individuals where there is corruption, fraud, racketeering etc."

Billions were lost through major projects such as the building of stadiums for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, the upgrade of airports, highway improvement projects, and the building of hospitals, dams and bridges.