A PROMINENT Mildura business is facing criminal charges following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
The Country Care Group Pty Ltd (Country Care), its managing director Robert Hogan and former business development manager Cameron Harrison were named in a statement issued by the ACCC yesterday.
It is the first criminal prosecution of an Australian corporation under the criminal cartel provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
The charges relate to alleged cartel conduct involving assistive technology products used in rehabilitation and aged care, including beds and mattresses, wheelchairs and walking frames.
In a statement, Mr Hogan said: “Naturally we are disappointed that the ACCC has decided to commence these actions.
“We have built a strong legal team to assist us through this process.
“It remains business as usual for Country Care and I am personally totally focussed on working with our strong leadership team to ensure we continue to deliver for our customers.”
The matter has been listed for mention before Mildura Magistrates’ Court on March 14.
Country Care is a family-owned Mildura business that provides equipment solutions to aged care facilities, hospitals, health care centres and government contracts.
The group also has a contract with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
As of last year, Country Care employed about 45 people in the Mildura area and supplied about 85 Country Care Group shops across Australia.
According to the ACCC website, a cartel exists when businesses agree to act together instead of competing with each other.
This agreement is designed to drive up the profits of cartel members while maintaining the illusion of competition.
Under the Competition and Consumer Act, individuals found guilty of cartel conduct could face up to 10 years in jail.
Mr Harrison could not be contacted for comment.
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