Alkaloids of Australia began a 10-year expansion project at Memerambi last year

December 2, 2020

A company with key operations in the South Burnett has been targeted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission which alleges it is part of a cartel involved in international price-fixing.

A media statement, released by the ACCC on Tuesday, stated that Alkaloids of Australia Pty Ltd and its former export manager, Christopher Kenneth Joyce, have each been charged with 33 cartel offences following a criminal investigation by the ACCC.

The charges allege breaches of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, formerly the Trade Practices Act 1974.

The matters will be prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

Alkaloids of Australia is headquartered in Sydney but operates a major facility at Memerambi to process duboisia.

The company produces and supplies scopolamine N-butylbromide, also known as hyoscine butylbromide, the active ingredient in antispasmodic medications taken to relieve stomach pain and bowel cramps.

The ACCC alleges that Alkaloids of Australia and other overseas suppliers of scopolamine fixed prices, restricted supply, allocated customers and/or geographical markets, and/or rigged bids for the supply of scopolamine to international manufacturers of generic medications.

The allegations extend over a period of almost 10 years, beginning on July 24 when criminal cartel laws came into force in Australia.

The charges are listed for mention in the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on January 19.

A company spokesperson in Sydney could not comment because the matter is before the courts.

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The ACCC says the maximum fine for corporations for each criminal cartel offence is the greater of:

  • $10 million,
  • Three times the total benefits that have been obtained and are reasonably attributable to the commission of the offence, or
  • If the total value of the benefits cannot be determined, 10 per cent of the corporation’s annual turnover connected with Australia.

An individual convicted of a criminal cartel offence may be sentenced to up to 10 years’ jail or fined up to $420,000, or both.

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