“AECI confirms that a dawn raid by authorities from the Competition Commission took place at its business Akulu Marchon yesterday [Thursday],” AECI Speciality Chemicals executive and chairman of Akulu Marchon Dean Murray said in a statement.
“In line with AECI’s dawn raid policy, full co-operation was and will continue to be extended to the authorities in the information gathering phase of their investigations.”
In a statement on Thursday, the Competition Commission said it raided the Investchem and Akulu Marchon offices to conduct a search and seizure operation.
The firms manufacture and supply a range of surfactant products, and the raid operation formed part of an ongoing investigation by the commission.
The investigation is into “collusive conduct” in the market for the production and supply of a range of surfactants products used as input materials in the manufacture of blended household detergents, cosmetics, and toiletry, it said.
These include chemicals such as Sulphuric Acid, Ether Sulphate, and Sodium Dodecyl Benzene Sulphonate (N30), which can be found in dishwashing liquids, soaps, and car cleaning products.
“The commission has reasonable grounds to believe [that] from about 2003 the parties held meetings and agreed to fix the prices for surfactants and allocated customers between each other,” it said.
“The commission understands the alleged conduct is ongoing. The commission is conducting the operation with due regard to the rights of the firms and all the affected persons.”
The commission said it seized documents and electronic data that would be analysed with other information gathered to determine whether the Competition Act had been contravened.
Competition commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele said he believed the information obtained would be useful to determine whether the act had been contravened.
“I believe that the information that will be obtained from today’s [Thursday] operation will enable the commission to determine whether or not parties have indeed engaged in collusive conduct,” he said in the statement.
“However, as part of any investigation, we also wish to urge anyone, be it business or individuals with further information, to come forward and assist the commission in concluding this investigation.”
The commission said in terms of section 48 of the Competition Act, it was authorised to enter and search premises and seize documents which had a bearing on an investigation.
The commission obtained warrants from the High Court in Pretoria authorising it to search the offices.