Gauteng: Steelmaker ArcelorMittal has agreed to pay a $110-million (88-million-euro) fine for illegal price fixing in South Africa, the country`s competition watchdog announced Monday.
The Competition Commission launched a probe into steel producers in the country in 2008 following concerns around high steel prices, and found that the company colluded with its competitors in "fixing" prices and allocating customers.
The company "admits having been involved in the long steel and scrap metal cartels, and agrees to pay an administrative penalty of 1.5 billion rand" ($110 million), it said in a statement.
The local unit of the company will pay the fine in five annual instalments of at least 300 million rand each.
The South African government said it welcomed the punishment of the country`s largest steel maker in what it ranked the "largest single" fine imposed so far against an individual firm by the competition authorities.
"The action by the competition authorities is part of a crackdown against abuse of market power and price-fixing that undermine the performance of the economy," Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said in a statement.
The watchdog`s chief commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele said the "penalty sends a strong message of deterrence and is an important milestone in the Commission`s enforcement against cartels".
ArcelorMittal South Africa is the continent`s largest steel producer, supplying more than 61 percent of the steel used in Africa`s most industrialised country.