Johannesburg – Explosives and speciality chemicals group AECI said on Friday that the Competition Commission had raided its business called Akulu Marchon.

“AECI confirms that a raid by authorities from the Competition Commission took place at its business Akulu Marchon on Thursday,” said AECI Speciality Chemicals executive and chairperson of Akulu Marchon, Dean Murray.

“In line with AECI’s policy, full co-operation was and will continue to be extended to the authorities in the information gathering phase of their investigations.”

Household detergents

The Competition Commission said earlier that it had raided the Investchem and Akulu Marchon offices to conduct a search and seizure operation.

The firms manufacture and supply a range of surfactant products and the operation formed part of an ongoing investigation by the commission.

The investigation is into “collusive conduct” in the market for the production and supply of a range of surfactants products used as input materials in the manufacture of blended household detergents, cosmetics and toiletry, it said.

These include chemicals such as aslphuric acid, ether sulphate and sodium dodecyl benzene sulphonate (N30), which can be found in dishwashing liquids, soaps and car cleaning products.

“The commission has reasonable grounds to believe [that] from about 2003 the parties held meetings and agreed to fix the prices for surfactants and allocated customers between each other,” it said.

“The commission understands the alleged conduct is ongoing. The commission is conducting the operation with due regard to the rights of the firms and all the affected persons.”

Useful to determine

The commission said it seized documents and electronic data that would be analysed with other information gathered to determine whether the Competition Act had been contravened.

Competition commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele said he believed the information obtained would be useful to determine whether the act had been contravened.

The commission said in terms of section 48 of the Competition Act it was authorised to enter and search premises and seize documents which had a bearing on an investigation.