Willowton and Wilmar, two of the five edible oil companies currently under cartel allegations in South Africa, have had heir attempts to block the investigation turned down.
The Kwazulu-Natal and Gauteng Divisions of the High Court of South Africa rejected Willowton Oil and Cake Mills’ application to stop the Competition Commission from reviewing documents that were seized from the company’s offices in 2016, the just-food news site reported on 21 March.
Wilmar Continental Edible Oils and Fats submitted a similar request earlier in March, but this application was turned down as well.
The Commission said that should the rulings have been found in the companies’ favour, it would have “effectively stopped” the investigation, just-food wrote.
The news site quoted competition commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele as saying: “The search and seizure operation was conducted with due regard to the rights of all the affected persons. We will therefore not be swayed in our efforts to clamp down on the exploitation of consumers by cartels, particularly in the food and agro-processing sector.”
A spokesman for Willowton told just-food the company was “consulting with its legal team”.
Five companies – including Willowton, Wilmar, FR Waring, Africa Sun Oil Refineries and Epic Foods – were accused by the Competition Commission of engaging in “cartel conduct which includes price fixing” that is claimed to have started as far back as 2007.
The Commission raided the offices of all five companies last year after securing search and seizure warrants, just-food wrote.
Each of them, with the exception of Epic Foods, had filed applications to stop the Commission from reviewing the seized documents.
The commission said it had filed another bid to oppose Africa Sun Oil’s request on 20 March and FR Waring’s on 22 March.