The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) carried out a search and inspection of a sugar mill head office in Lahore, to impound proofs of the group’s suspected involvement in anti-competitive activities in violation of the Competition Act, 2010.
As part of an ongoing enquiry into the possible anti-competitive activities in the sugar industry, the CCP on 14 September 2020 carried out search and inspection of the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association’s Lahore and Islamabad offices and impounded PSMA’s record including the correspondence done through letters, emails, and WhatsApp messages, between various members and office bearers of PSMA.
The impounded data included the exchange of emails between a senior official of one of the Sugar Mill (Member of PSMA) and PSMA Punjab zone office bearers regarding sensitive commercial information such as mill-wise, district-wise sugar stock position, and even the quantity of cane crushed, sugar produced, recovery percentage, carry forward old/raw sugar, total sugar, quantity sold, balance and sold percentage.
Moreover, an analysis of the WhatsApp messages exchanged in a group of PSMA officials, the same senior official of that Sugar Mill was found to be in constant communication with regards to price and stock-related data of sugar mills.
The impounded data indicated the senior official’s continued involvement in sharing/receiving sensitive information regarding the sugar industry since 2012 when he was nominated as the focal person for coordinating the sugar stock position by PSMA.
The CCP suspects that the compilation, consolidation, and distribution of sensitive commercial information using the PSMA’s platform could lead to possible proof/corroboration of collusive activity/cartelization that is a violation of the Competition Act. The search team has impounded the relevant print and electronic material from the above-mentioned Sugar Mill premises for further scrutiny.