PRETORIA – The Competition Commission has welcomed the decision by the Competition Tribunal confirming the settlement agreement it reached with TWK Milling.

The tribunal confirmed the settlement agreement on Wednesday.

In terms of the agreement, TWK Milling agreed to pay a fine of R1.84 million.

An investigation initiated by the commission in 2007 found that TWK Milling colluded with its competitors to fix the prices of milled wheat products.

Sipho Ngwema, the head of communications at the commission, said on Friday that the commission had so far concluded settlement agreements in this case that resulted in a total of R613m in fines being agreed with five companies.

They were Pioneer Foods (R500m), Foodcorp (R88.5m), Carolina Roller Meule (R4.4m), Keystone Milling (R6.73m) and Blinkwater Mills (R10.1m).

Ngwema said Tiger Brands and Premier Foods were granted conditional immunity in terms of the commission's corporate leniency policy.

He said this policy was aimed at eradicating and preventing cartel activity because it harmed the economy at large.

“Not only does such activity affect consumer welfare, but it also hinders development and innovation in the industries within which this activity occurs."

Ngwema said the commission was proceeding with its case against the remaining respondents, Westra Milling and Paramount Mills.

He said the tribunal expected to hear these matters in April next year.

The case dates back to 2007 when the commission received a corporate leniency application from Premier Foods, which was corroborated by a further leniency application filed by Tiger Brands in the same year.

The commission launched an investigation against Tiger Brands, Pioneer Foods, Foodcorp, Pride Milling and Progress Milling.

Other industry players were later also probed, including TWK Milling, Blinkwater Mills, Godrich Milling, Keystone Milling, Westra Milling, Carolina Mills, Brenner Mills, Paramount Mills, NTK Mills, Kalel trading as Isizwe Mills, Bothaville Milling and Allem Brothers.