Jason Ellis, a former general manager of sales and marketing at BlueScope Steel Limited, has been charged with two counts of inciting the obstruction of a Commonwealth official in the performance of their functions.
The charges were laid by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) and relate to actions allegedly taken by Mr Ellis during the ACCC investigation into alleged cartel conduct by BlueScope which is the subject of separate civil cartel proceedings filed by the ACCC against BlueScope and Mr Ellis.
The criminal charges laid against Mr Ellis are offences under the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) that carry a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment per offence.
“These obstruction allegations are very serious. This is the first time an individual has been charged with inciting the obstruction of a Commonwealth official in relation to an ACCC investigation,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
The criminal charges of inciting the obstruction of a Commonwealth official brought against Mr Ellis are listed before the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on 5 November 2019.
The CDPP has considered the alleged cartel offences and determined not to commence criminal cartel proceedings against either BlueScope or Mr Ellis.
The separate civil cartel proceedings filed by the ACCC against BlueScope and Mr Ellis remain before the Federal Court.
In those proceedings, the ACCC alleges that between September 2013 and June 2014, BlueScope and Mr Ellis attempted to induce various steel distributors in Australia and overseas manufacturers to enter agreements containing a price fixing provision.
As the matters are currently before the courts, the ACCC will not be providing further comment at this time.
The ACCC investigates cartel conduct, manages the immunity process, takes proceedings in the Federal Court in respect of civil cartel contraventions, and refers serious cartel conduct to the CDPP for consideration for prosecution.
The CDPP is responsible for prosecuting criminal offences in accordance with the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth.