Five people have been ordered to pay a total of $105,000 following an Auckland High Court penalty hearing into a price-fixing agreement in connection with the introduction of the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) Act 2012.
The five men admitted that they were involved in an anti-competitive agreement between their employers, PGG Wrightson and Elders Rural Holdings, and other members of the Stock and Station Agents Association to charge at least $25 for the tagging of any cattle, and $10 for calves, presented to a saleyard without the ear tag required by the Act. It was agreed that agents would pass that fee on to farmers.
Four of the men, Nigel Thorpe, Donald Baines, Douglas Cartridge, and Andrew Clark, were part of PGG Wrightson’s NAIT Project Team while Stuart Chapman was Elders’ managing director at the time.
Chapman and Thorpe were both fined $25,000, Baines, Cartridge $20,000 each and Clark $15,000.
They will also pay an additional $5000 towards the Commerce Commission’s investigation costs.
In December 2015, PGG Wrightson and Elders’ Rural Livestock were fined $2.7 million and $475,000 respectively after admitting their conduct in this case. Proceedings against the final defendant, Elders Rural Holdings, remain before the Court.
The ruse was uncovered after a complaint was lodged with the Commission by a Northland farmer in 2012.