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Pretoria - A settlement agreement between fire control and protection services provider Fireco Gauteng, now named KRS Fire, and the Competition Commission in terms of which Fireco Gauteng agreed to pay a fine of R909376.29 for collusion has been confirmed by the Competition Tribunal.

The tribunal said on Wednesday that an addendum to the consent agreement with Fireco Gauteng, which addressed a concern about the wording of the consent agreement that the tribunal had raised during a hearing of the case earlier this month, was made an order of the tribunal.

It had expressed concern about the wording of the consent agreement because it meant that Fireco Gauteng’s conditional leniency in respect of market allocation was granted rather than being conditional on it co-operating with the commission in the prosecution of the other members of the cartel. It is the second settlement confirmed by the tribunal.

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The tribunal earlier this month confirmed a settlement agreement in terms of which Afrion Property Services cc (Afrion), which is also specialising in supplying, installing and maintaining fire control and protection systems in South Africa and the continent, agreed to pay a fine of R327201.85 for collusion with Independent Fire Protection Services, which has since ceased operating.

The other companies referred to the tribunal in March for prosecution were Belfa Fire, Cross Fire Management, Fire Protection Systems, Fireco, and Tshwane Fire Sprinklers cc.

The referral followed the search and seizure dawn raid by commission investigators in March 2015 on the offices of six Gauteng based firms as part of an investigation into alleged collusive conduct. This included the installation and maintenance of automatic sprinkler systems, hydrants, hose reels and extinguishers.

Sipho Ngwema, a spokesperson for the commission, said in March when the cases were referred to the tribunal that the commission’s investigation found that from at least 1996 to 2015 the companies entered into agreements and/or engaged in a concerted practice to fix prices, divide markets and tendered collusively.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE