The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) has issued its highest ever financial penalty of almost S$27 million against 13 fresh chicken distributors (Chicken Distributors). The CCCS’ investigations against the Chicken Distributors began in 2014 following information received from a secret complainant. The CCCS subsequently found that the Chicken Distributors had engaged in anti-competitive agreements to coordinate the amount and timing of price increases and agreeing not to compete for each other’s customers in the market for the supply of fresh chicken products in Singapore.

CCCS’ record penalty highlights its growing enforcement prowess against cartel conduct particularly those involving parties with huge market shares and whose conduct were serious and protracted. The CCCS’ latest decision against the Chicken Distributors comes in the wake of its proposed infringement decision against certain hotels for sharing confidential information issued in August 2018 and highlights its growing enforcement oversight and scrutiny of the various markets in Singapore. The trend of ever increasing financial penalties imposed by the CCCS (as evident from the penalties imposed against the Chicken Distributors) is likely to continue and will likely be superseded in other investigations involving huge markets and/or market players.

Importantly, businesses should pay heed to the increasing effectiveness of the CCCS’ whistle blowing / reward scheme (which had triggered this investigation) and the availability of the CCCS’ leniency programme (which can give rise to total immunity from financial penalties). The CCCS’ decision against the Chicken Distributors highlights the immense risks and costs of engaging in any anti-competitive behaviour in Singapore and the growing clarion call for competition law compliance and education amongst employees and management alike.

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