The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has accused biscuit, bread and cake-maker George Weston Foods, a subsidiary of UK food company AB Foods, of fixing the price of flour.
The ACCC alleges that Paul Benedict Loneragan, a former director of George Weston, and George Weston induced a competitor to agree to increase the wholesale price of wheaten flour in contravention of the Trade Practices Act 1974.
The watchdogclaims that Mr. Loneragan called senior representatives of a competitor stating that George Weston's prices were rising and that they should cooperate and do the same. At the time Mr Loneragan was a divisional chief executive of George Weston, responsible for its milling activities nationally.
The ACCC further alleges that Mr Loneragan made a second call to the same competitor stating that George Weston was putting flour prices up and was looking for cooperation from that competitor.
Consequently the ACCC is seeking declarations that George Weston and Mr Loneragan breached the Trade Practices Act, and in addition injunctions restraining George Weston and Mr Loneragan from engaging in similar conduct to that alleged in the future; a comprehensive review of George Weston's trade practices compliance programme; and costs.
A directions hearing has been set for the Federal Court in Sydney on 7 February.