Former General Manager admits obstructing government investigators

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Former General Manager admits obstructing government investigators

A former General Manager (GM) of sales and marketing at BlueScope Steel Limited (BlueScope) pleaded guilty last week to one charge of inciting the obstruction of Commonwealth public officials in the performance of their functions. The charge arose following investigations by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) into allegations of cartel conduct by BlueScope and its representatives.

The former Sales GM, who departed BlueScope in 2017, pleaded guilty to inciting two fellow employees to give false information and evidence to ACCC investigators. A sentencing hearing in December 2020 with the charge laid under the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act and carrying a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.

ACCC Chair Rod Sim commented, “This is the first time an individual has been charged with inciting the obstruction of a Commonwealth public official in relation to an ACCC investigation”.

The former Sales GM, along with BlueScope, face separate proceedings in the Federal Court centring on allegations that between September 2013 and June 2014, the company and the Sales GM attempted to induce both local and overseas manufacturers to enter arrangements that contained price-fixing provisions. The ACCC claims that during this period, the Sales GM held as many as 11 separate meetings with competitors across Victoria, Taiwan and India.

In response to these charges, BlueScope Chairman John Bevan previously commented in August 2019, “These are serious allegations, and the Board is treating them very seriously. Since becoming aware of the ACCC’s investigation, we have constructively engaged with the ACCC and conducted our own internal investigation. While we have not seen all of the evidence that has been relied on by the ACCC, based on what we know today, we do not believe that BlueScope, or any current or former employees, have engaged in cartel conduct.”

For queries about dealing with Commonwealth officials or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 0417 622 178 or via email to dean.cameron@workforceadvisory.com.au

Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

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