FORMER BlueScope Steel general manager of sales and marketing, Jason Ellis, has been charged by the ACCC with two counts of inciting the obstruction of a Commonwealth official.

The charges were laid by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and relate to actions allegedly done by Mr Ellis during the ACCC investigation into alleged cartel conduct which is the subject of separate civil cartel proceedings filed by the ACCC against BlueScope and Mr Ellis.

“These obstruction allegations are very serious,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

“This is the first time an individual has been charged with inciting the obstruction of a Commonwealth official in relation to an ACCC investigation.”

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The criminal charges brought against Mr Ellis are listed for the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on 5 November.

The CDPP has determined not to start criminal cartel proceedings against BlueScope or Mr Ellis.

The civil cartel proceedings filed by the ACCC against BlueScope and Mr Ellis remain before the Federal Court.

In those proceedings, the regulator alleges that between September 2013 and June 2014, BlueScope and Mr Ellis attempted to induce various steel distributors in Australia and overseas manufacturers to enter agreements containing a price fixing provision.

The ACCC investigates cartel conduct, manages the immunity process, takes proceedings in the Federal Court regarding civil cartel contraventions, and refers serious cartel conduct to the CDPP for consideration for prosecution.

The CDPP is responsible for prosecuting criminal offences in accordance with the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth.

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