The trial of 20 Egyptian cement company executives on price-fixing charges began in Cairo on Monday but after a brief procedural session the court adjourned until March 10. The 20 executives, who did not appear in court, face charges of conspiring to fix prices in the local market in the first case of its kind under a three-year-old anti-monopoly law. The firms include Suez Cement, Misr Beni Suef, Misr Qena and Torah Cement.
The government filed accusations of anti-competitive practices against them in October after a 14-month probe by its own investigators, saying they agreed on prices and how to share out the market for Portland cement in 2005 and 2006.
Rising local cement prices drove the Ministry of Trade and Industry to introduce an export duty on cement at 65 Egyptian pounds (US$11.84) a tonne in February 2007. It raised the duty again to Egyptian pounds 85 per tonne in August.