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Holcim accused of price fixing in Brazil

Six cement companies, among them the Swiss firm Holcim, are under suspicion for price fixing, the Brazilian justice ministry says.

The allegations were made upon publication of a report on Thursday, the result of five years of investigation into the matter. The report will now be handed over to the country’s competition authority.

The companies concerned could be in line for fines the equivalent of 30 per cent of gross turnover for 2005, the year before the investigation started, news wires report.

In all, the six firms cited control 90 per cent of the Brazilian concrete and cement market. According to the Brazilian justice ministry, by fixing prices the smaller competition was driven out of the market.

Brazil is the world’s fifth-largest cement producer after China, India, the United States and Turkey.

In a statement on Friday, Holcim said that it was aware of the report and that it had always supplied all information requested by the Brazilian justice ministry’s Secretariat of Economic Law (SDE).

But it said it did not agree with the report’s conclusions. “Holcim (Brasil) S.A. confirms, as it has already done to the SDE in several occasions, that it has not engaged in any illicit conduct,” said the statement.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR