The Bangladesh Competition Commission has filed 44 cases against 36 firms and individual businesses including corporate giants like Unilever, Pran, Square, ACI, Akiz, Bashundhara and S Alam Group, on charge of destabilising the commodity market by hiking prices unusually.
Although the commission filed the suo moto cases on Thursday, the full list of the 36 defendants was made available on Monday.
The companies have made the market volatile by unusually hiking the prices of rice, flour, eggs, broiler chicken and toiletries while creating artificial crises of the same, it said.
For making the rice market unstable, Square Food and Beverage chairman, ACI chairman, Bangladesh Edible Oil managing director, Brac Seed and Agro Enterprise chairman/MD, Pran Foods chief executive officer/MD, and City Group MD have been sued. All of them are involved in selling packaged rice.
Apart from the corporate companies, proprieter of Rashid Agro Food Product of Kushtia Abdur Rashid, Jahura Auto Rice Mill of Dinajpur owner Abdul Hannan, Belcon Group of Naogaon owner Belal Hossain, Erfan Group of Chapainababganj owner Erfan Ali, Kibria Agro Industry of Bogura Director Golam Kibria, Mofiz Uddin Automatic Rice Mill of Naogaon owner Tawfiqul Islam, Alal Agro Food Product Ltd of Bogura owner Alal Ahmed, Nurjahan Agro Food Industries of Brahmanbaria owner Zahirul Islam, Khan Auto Rice Mill of Bogura owner Putu Mia, M/S Dada Rice Mill of Kushtia owner Arshad Ali, Majumder Auto Rice Mill of Naogaon owner Brozen Majumder, City Auto Rice and Dal Mills of Narayanganj and Mabco Rice Industries of Naogaon chairman/MD, have been sued.
For creating volatility in the flour market, the commission filed cases against Meghna Group MD, Akiz Group chairman, Bashundhara Group MD, ACI Group MD, TK Group MD, Nurjahan Group MD and chairman, S Alam Refined Industry MD and City Group MD.
For manipulating the egg market, CP Bangladesh MD or CEO, Paragon Poultry MD, People's Feed owner, Diamond Egg Ltd MD, Kazi Farms Group MD Kazi Zahedul Hasan and Egg Traders Association President Amanat Ullah, have been sued.
Kazi Farms Group MD Kazi Zahedul Hasan, Saguna Food and Feeds director, Alal Poultry and Fish Feed MD/CEO, Nourish Poultry and Hatchery director, Paragon Poultry MD, and CP Bangladesh president have been sued by the commission for manipulating the poultry market.
For unusual price hike of soap, perfumed soap, paste and detergent, ACI chairman, Unilever Bangladesh MD, Square Group chairman/MD, Kohinoor Chemical Company and Keya Group MD/chairman were sued.
The commission sources said hearings of the companies are being held serially since Monday. The director of Kazi Farms and two lawyers were present on Monday.
The commission wanted the company to submit the detailed business report including the duration of business operation, number of chicken production and marketing between 22 July and 22 September, production cost and sales price, market share, and the logic for unusual price hike, during the hearing.
Biswajit Saha, director of City Group, told The Business Standard that the competition commission has sent legal notice to many business entities.
"We have been running our business as per the law," he said.
Kazi Mohiuddin, senior general manager at Meghna Group of Industries, said he was aware of the issue, but declined to comment further.