March 3, 2024, 2:36 pm

Staff Correspondent

2022-09-23 08:00:22 BdST

Unilever, City Group and 9 others sued for ‘market manipulation’

The Bangladesh Competition Commission (BCC) has filed lawsuits against 11 companies and individuals for their alleged role in creating instability in commodity prices.

“The commission has prepared a list of 49 companies and individuals, of whom 11 have been sued today (Thursday) for their role in market manipulation. Cases will also be filed against the rest of the companies and individuals by Sunday,” Abdus Sabur, secretary of the BCC said.

These companies and individuals have allegedly created instability by increasing commodity prices and creating an artificial crisis in the market.

According to the BCC, Rashid Agro Food, Belcon Group, City Group, Paragon Poultry, Egg Traders Multipurpose Co-operative Society President Amanullah, Kazi Farms Managing Director Kazi Jahedul Islam and Unilever Bangladesh Limited Managing Director Zaved Akhtar are among the 11 companies and individuals who were sued on Thursday.

They have been sued for increasing prices of rice, oil, wheat flour, egg, and toiletries in the market. 

“We have sent letters to 49 companies and individuals to appear before the court operated by the commission in phases asking them to present their agreements. If they are proved innocent during the hearing they will be acquitted. Otherwise, they will have to face legal action under the departmental act,” Sabur said.

Responding to a query, he said the hearing on the cases will begin on September 26.

The cases have been lodged under sections 15 and 16 of the Competition Commission Act.

The section-15 stated that if anyone creates a monopoly and influences the market, the responsible person or company will be brought under the purview of punishment.

Besides, section 16 stated if a product price is manipulated by exploiting the opportunity to be at the top in the market or production of a product it is to be considered a punishable crime.

People have been suffering immensely for the last few months as the prices of most of the essential items including rice, oil, wheat flour, egg, and chicken and toiletries products went up in the market abnormally.

The government and its different agencies have been holding a series of meetings with traders, manufacturers, and marketing companies to keep the prices of essential products at a tolerable level but failed.

Recently while talking to a TV live programme, AHM Shafiquzzaman, director general of the Directorate of National Consumers’ Right Protection (DNCRP), underscored the need for legal action against the market manipulators and warned that the government will go for tough action immediately against them.

Meanwhile, the prices of rice have been high in the market for several months. And the price of per kilogram coarse rice went up to Tk 55 and the price per kilogram of fine rice rose to Tk 85.

But the trend is seen declining a little bit in the last two weeks as the government has already undertaken some food-friendly programmes including OSM.

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