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COMPETITION COMMISSION TARGETS CARGO SHIPPING LINES

South Africa - The Competition Commission is conducting has announced that it  is conducting a search and seizure operation at the premises of six cargo shipping companies operating in the Western Cape and Kwazulu-Natal provinces.

The Commission believes it has reasonable grounds to suspect that Hamburg Sud South Africa (Pty) Ltd, Maersk South Africa (Pty) Ltd, Safmarine (Pty) Ltd, Mediterranean Shipping Company (Pty) Ltd, Pacific International Line South Africa (Pty) Ltd and CMA CGM Shipping Agencies South Africa (Pty) Ltd, have engaged in collusive practices to, inter alia, fix the incremental rates for the shipment of cargo from Asia to South Africa in contravention of the Competition Act.

According to a press release, the search and seizure operation is conducted as part of an ongoing investigation which was initiated by the Commission based on information from a member the public. During the search the Commission will seize documents and electronic data, which will be analysed together with other information gathered to determine whether these companies have contravened the Competition Act. In terms of section 48 of the Competition Act, the Commission is authorised to enter and search premises and seize documents which have a bearing on its investigation.

The Commission has obtained warrants authorising it to search the premises of these companies at the Western Cape High Court and Pietermaritzburg High Court. The operation is conducted with due regard to the rights of all the affected persons.

The shipping lines concerned have denied any wrongdoing.