File picture: The Competition Commission launched its largest simultaneous and coordinated search and seizure raid in a cartel investigation in its history yesterday when its investigators swooped on the premises of the Automatic Sprinkler Inspection Bureau (ASIB).

KwaZulu-Natal- Sipho Ngwema, the head of communications at the commission, said earlier today the companies raided were involved in the supply, installation and maintenance of fire control and protection systems.

Chubb Fire and Security KwaZulu-Natal was the most high profile company on the list of companies that were raided.

Ngwema said the commission had reasonable grounds to believe that ASIB and its members had agreements and/or were engaged in a concerted practice to fix prices and trading conditions, divide markets and tender collusively.

He said the raids formed part part of an ongoing investigation and prosecution in the sector, which had already led to several Gauteng companies admitting to the conduct and settling with the commission.

“This investigation is particularly concerning because of the seemingly prominent role played by consulting engineering companies in facilitating this cartel as well as the confirmation of the pervasiveness of cartels in the construction sector,” he said.