Federal Court of Australia imposes $145,000 fine on Murray Goulburn Co-operative

The court concluded that the Co-operative had misrepresented milk prices to milk suppliers causing them a loss.

On Thursday, Australia’s competition regulator stated, the Federal Court of Australia has imposed penalties of $145,000 (A$200,000) against Gary Helou, a former managing director of Murray Goulburn Co-operative for his role in misleading farmers regarding how much they would be paid for their milk.

In November, Goulburn had reached a settlement with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) over the misrepresentations about farmgate milk prices.

The ACCC had said earlier it would not seek a penalty against the company.

“The penalty imposed against Mr Helou reflects his seniority at Murray Goulburn and involvement in misleading representations about the farmgate milk price,” said Mick Keogh, ACCC’s Deputy Chair.

Neither Goulburn and Helou could not be contacted immediately.

In April 2016, Murray Goulburn had slashed the price of milk it paid milk suppliers by 20%. The move had angered dairy farmers the cut came so late in the season they had little chance but to continue producing milk at a loss.

Following a year-long investigation, the ACCC concluded that Goulburn had not indicated any potential risk to milk prices to its farmer shareholders.

Confirming the fine, Goulburn stated in a statement that the Federal Court had also ordered the dairy co-operative to contribute A$200,000 and Helou A$50,000 toward the ACCC’s court costs.

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