Two leading waste firm bosses have been handed prison sentences after admitting to engineering a price-fixing scheme to force up costs for their customers.

One of the companies, Bingo Industries, was on Friday handed the second-biggest fine for cartel conduct in the Australian competition watchdog’s history with a total penalty of $30 million.

Daniel Tartak, Bingo’s former managing director and chief executive, pleaded guilty in 2022 to two cartel offences following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

He was handed a two-year prison sentence by a Federal Court judge, who said the term should be served in the community under an intensive correction order.

ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb welcomed the judgment as a deterrent for cartel behaviour. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

Tartak will also have to pay a fine of $100,000 and perform 400 hours of community service after admitting criminal cartel conduct over an illegal price-fixing scheme.

Bingo admitted criminal cartel offences for the same plot, resulting in the firm’s multimillion-dollar fine.

Tartak, the son of Bingo founder Tony Tartak, was also disqualified from managing a corporation for five years.

The court heard he made agreements with former Aussie Skip Bin Services chief executive Emmanuel Roussakis about the prices their companies would charge for collection and processing services.

Aussie Skips and Roussakis also pleaded guilty to cartel conduct.

Roussakis’ prison sentence is to be served in the community as an 18-month intensive corrections order. He was also ordered to complete 300 hours of community service, fined $75,000 and banned from managing a corporation for five years.

Aussie Skips was fined a combined $3.5 million.

In delivering the sentences, Justice Michael Wigney said the agreement likely resulted in customers paying more for the companies’ services than they otherwise would have.

“Cartels are widely condemned as the most egregious form of anti-competitive behaviour,” he said.

“At its heart, a cartel is an agreement between competitors not to compete.”

The pair first met in a cafe at Tartak’s request before engaging in a series of WhatsApp messages.

The men agreed that Aussie Skips would increase the price of most of its collection services by 20 per cent and Bingo would maintain a price increase of 25 per cent for most of its skip services.

Justice Wigney said the companies were able to increase their prices – and profit from doing so – without the usual associated risk of losing customers.

The arrangements were effectively abandoned after several months, the court was told.

Justice Wigney noted Tartak and Roussakis co-operated with investigators and pleaded guilty at the earliest possible time, avoiding what would likely have been a lengthy trial.

Current Bingo chief executive Chris Jeffrey said the company was now materially different to when the conduct occurred five years ago.

“We’ve got a new owner, a new board, a new chair and a new executive team,” he said.

An ACCC probe uncovered the scheme after consumers complained about the price rises.

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions laid the charges after a referral from the commission.

ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb welcomed Friday’s judgment as providing deterrence for others considering engaging in cartel behaviour.

“We hope that all corporations realise how serious this is and that they train all of their employees from the most senior in the company to the most junior, that this conduct is not to be entered into,” she said.

The fine imposed on Bingo is the second largest achieved by the ACCC for cartel conduct after shipping firm K-Line was fined $34.5 million in 2019.

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