Former export director of pharmaceutical ingredients company pleads guilty to criminal cartel charges

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Christopher Kenneth Joyce, the former export manager of pharmaceutical ingredients company Alkaloids of Australia Pty Ltd, pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy today in the local Downing Center court in Sydney.

Following an ACCC investigation and referral to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP), on December 1, 2020, Alkaloids of Australia and Christopher Joyce were charged with criminal conspiracy offenses under the Competition and Consumer Law, formerly known as the Commercial Practices Law.

Alkaloids of Australia produces and supplies SNBB (Scopolamine N-Butylbromide), which is an active pharmaceutical ingredient in antispasmodic drugs.

Earlier today, Christopher Joyce pleaded guilty to three counts and pleaded guilty to seven other offenses, relating to his conduct involving price fixing, bid-rigging and market sharing arrangements between Alkaloids of Australia and other SNBB overseas suppliers.

The price fixing charges to which Christopher Joyce has pleaded guilty extend over a period of approximately eight years from July 2009, when criminal cartel laws came into force in Australia.

“This is the first guilty plea of ​​an individual for criminal cartel conduct under criminal cartel laws,” said ACCC President Rod Sims.

Christopher Joyce has been referred to the Federal Court of Australia for conviction, and the case is then scheduled for a case management hearing on November 10, 2021.

Lawsuits against Alkaloids of Australia are continuing.

Alkaloids of Australia has yet to make a case for the criminal cartel charges it faces. This case is entered in the local Downing Center court on November 9, 2021.

As these matters are currently before the tribunal, ACCC will not provide further comments at this time.

Background

Alkaloids of Australia is a company which produces active pharmaceutical ingredients, based in Queensland and New South Wales.

SNBB (scopolamine N-butylbromide, also known as hyoscine butylbromide) is the active pharmaceutical ingredient in antispasmodic drugs used to relieve stomach pain and intestinal cramps.

SNBB is made from the Duboisia factory, which originated in Australia. Duboisia plants are grown commercially in and around Kingaroy in Queensland for the pharmaceutical industry.

SNBB is produced in Australia and the drugs are then imported into Australia as a final product.

To note

The ACCC investigates the conduct of cartels, manages the immunity process and, with respect to civil contraventions of cartels, prosecutes in Federal Court.

The CDPP is responsible for prosecuting cartel-related criminal offenses in accordance with Commonwealth Prosecution Policy. The ACCC refers serious cartel conduct to the CDPP for prosecution in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding between the CDPP and ACCC regarding serious cartel conduct.

A person convicted of a cartel offense can be sentenced to jail of up to 10 years or a fine of up to $ 444,000, or both.

Anyone with information on the conduct of a cartel is encouraged to call the ACCC cartel hotline on (02) 9230 3894.

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