Colgate-Palmolive payout after 'dirty tricks'


A household products giant has been hit with an $18 million fine over a laundry detergent cartel in Australia.

Colgate-Palmolive made customers pay more by doing secret deals with competitors to limit supply and control prices.

"They've been engaged in dirty tricks, that mean you and I pay a lot more than we should for this laundry detergent," says Tom Godfrey from Choice.

The dirty tricks were under the table deals with other companies to limit the supply and control the price of laundry detergents.

Its co-accused were Cussons and Unilever, along with supermarket giant Woolworths.

They're accused of colluding over the price of the ultra concentrates range launched in 2009.

The products are cheaper to produce, store and transport. But savings weren't passed onto shoppers.

"In a sense kept the gains to themselves rather than running any risk of having to lower prices to consumers, so it's quite a serious matter," says ACCC chairperson Rod Simms.

In New Zealand, similar products were released but there was substantial discounting.

The $18 million fine is one of the biggest in Australian corporate history.

"It's a dirty trick, they shouldn't have done it and this fine is exactly what they need," says Mr Godfrey.

It's a major win for the Australian Consumer watchdog which launched legal action in 2013. But the battle isn't over it's still pursuing Cussons and Woolworths in the Federal Court.