Send them to jail for stealing from the poor

3 November 2010

The National Consumer Forum has praised the Competition Commission for bringing Pioneer Foods to book for price-fixing, but has called again for tougher measures against the guilty individuals within companies.

“We congratulate the commission for its tenacity and professionalism in finally getting Pioneer to accept its unethical and illegal behaviour,” said NCF chairman Thami Bolani. “They have kept up the pressure despite Pioneer’s arrogant denial of wrongdoing and its endless legal wrangling.”

Bolani also commended the innovative terms that the commission had secured in addition to the administrative fines allowed by the Competition Act. “The commission has come up with initiatives that promise to both foster more competition in this sector, and to compensate consumers to some extent,” he said.

The NCF has previously raised with the Treasury the idea of directing part of the revenue from competition fines to building the capacity of the consumer movement in the country, thereby empowering consumer groups to play a greater role in fostering market competition.

Bolani emphasised, however, that anti-competitive behaviour will remain widespread until the legal option of jail sentences for executives and directors of price-fixing companies is introduced.

“Company executives will continue to take a chance until they are made personally liable for what is essentially a crime of theft from the consumer,” he said. “If the state is able to jail ex-police chief Jackie Selebi for 15 years for fraud, then corporate fraudsters deserve no less a punishment.”

Posted in Media Statements.