The legal fraternity is agog over the pushback the Competition Commission is receiving from higher courts — for lying to obtain search warrants, failing to abide by its own rules, and ignoring legal precedent in the high-stakes foreign-exchange case against 23 banks. Disgruntled Sandton lawyers say the judgments confirm their view that the institution is becoming increasingly high-handed towards business. Within the commission there is bubbling dissatisfaction too. At the Pretoria head office, staff mutter about dubious corporate governance and the fact that the top four executives are driven around by beefy bodyguards in a fleet of luxury motor cars. The commission’s financial situation is decidedly less robust than its security detail. In 2017, expenditure was allowed to climb by 24%, resulting in a R78m deficit that all but wiped out a surplus built up over many years. To remain sustainable the commission will need a bigger annual budget or it will have to cut costs or reduce its...

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