Construction CEO asks for forgiveness

Murray & Roberts CEO quoted Madiba in asking forgiveness for his company's involvement in collusion.

Fifteen companies colluded on projects including the 2010 FIFA World Cup stadiums and the Gautrain.

JOHANNESBURG - The CEO of one of the construction companies implicated in collusion on Thursday ask South Africans for forgiveness.

The Competition Tribunal wrapped up a two-day hearing and started assessing the R1.4 billion settlement agreement reached by 15 firms and the Competition Commission.

The commission's original probe uncovered widespread anti-competitive behaviour in the industry, including tender-rigging in projects worth more than R47 billion.

The projects included the construction of the 2010 FIFA World Cup stadiums, the Gautrain, hospitals, dams and bridges, and upgrades to airports and highways.

Murray & Roberts CEO Henry Laas said there was nothing left to do but apologise.

"Murray & Roberts is a household name in South Africa and it has played a significant role for more than 110 years in establishing South Africa's infrastructure. This is the bleakest moment in its history.

Quoting Madiba, Laas noted the importance of forgiveness.

"Former president Nelson Mandela one day said, 'If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness.'"

Laas added that legal action will be taken against those responsible.

The tribunal dealt with each of the 15 agreements individually, raising questions about whether guilty directors were punished.

From small family-run businesses to giants like WBHO, the companies have all apologised, claiming they've stopped colluding.

The tribunal questioned the companies about how they disguised "loser fees" to other firms and whether they punished those implicated in collusion.

Organisations like Corruption Watch were given a chance to call for criminal prosecutions.

The tribunal will now decide whether the fines imposed on the companies are appropriate.

There is no indication yet as to when the ruling will be delivered.