Construction firm Murray & Roberts has been slapped with another multimillion-rand fine for involvement in collusive tendering in the buildup to the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
The company, which erected the collapsed pedestrian bridge across Johannesburg’s M1 highway, has been fined R64.1m by competition authorities.
This is in addition to the R309m it had to pay in 2013, when the Competition Commission wrapped up its fast-track investigation process into collusion in the construction sector. The commission began the fast-track process in 2011.
The R64.1m must be paid by August next year and came as no surprise to Murray & Roberts, company spokesman Ed Jardim said yesterday. The company had made a provision for the fine following “an in-principle agreement in 2014 with the Competition Commission that was confirmed by the tribunal”.
Sources close to tribunal proceedings said though the fine was hefty, things could have been worse for the company.
“Generally, cases settled outside of the fasttrack process have a higher penalty. Murray & Roberts’ fine was negotiated down as the tribunal took into account their full co-operation in settling other cases,” said the sources, who asked not to be named because they were not authorised to speak to the media.
The company has settled 17 other cases involving itself and subsidiaries.
It was told about the size of the fine during a Competition Tribunal hearing held in Pretoria yesterday. This is for price rigging and contravening certain sections of the Competition Act.
The Competition Commission’s fast-track settlement process resulted in 15 firms, including Murray & Roberts, being collectively fined R1.4bn for involvement in the construction cartel. Yesterday’s fine forms part of the commission’s second-phase probe into construction companies rigging prices.
The second phase includes two legacy cases that preceded the fast-track process and two which emerged during the probe.
In the first case, Concor, a Murray & Roberts subsidiary, and two other firms, including Wilson Bayly Holmes Ovcon (WBHO), are accused of entering into a collusive tendering agreement relating to the upgrade of the Sishen-Saldanha Railway ore-line.
In the second matter, Concor, Group Five, Stefanutti Stocks, Aveng and four other firms are accused of price rigging in connection with the Durban undersea tunnel project.
The third case involves Murray & Roberts Botswana and subsidiary Genrec, which are accused of collusive tendering for civil works at Tati Nickel and the Cape Town Stadium in Green Point.
WBHO has refused to settle for allegedly manipulating prices, with Group Five, for construction work done on the N17 link road between New Canada and Soccer City.
The WBHO and Group Five matter was concluded on October 26.
In its latest update on the M1 bridge collapse, Murray & Roberts said last week that two of its directors also served on the board of Waco International, whose subsidiary FormScaff, had supplied and designed the pedestrian bridge that collapsed in late October.
Asked why it took the company almost two months to disclose this information, it said the directorships of Mahlape Sello and Royden Vice were matters of public record as they were both on Murray & Roberts and Waco’s websites. Mr Sello had since stepped down from Waco’s board. Investigations into the cause of the bridge collapse were continuing, Murray & Roberts said.
source Business Day