Watchdog growls at Tranz Rail over email destruction

<p>The New Zealand Commerce Commission has accused the former Tranz Rail management of "Enron-like" behaviour after the discovery that an employee ordered the destruction of potentially significant emails.</p> <p>The commission was investigating allegations of anti-competitive behaviour relating to Cook Strait ferry services during 1999&#472000.</p> <p>The investigation was prolonged through a series of court appeals culminating in an October 2002 judgment that declared a commission search warrant invalid.</p> <p>"Since receiving the Court of Appeal judgment, the commission uncovered, and Tranz Rail confirmed, that one of its employees in October or November 2000 directed the destruction of emails and possibly documents relating to ferry service negotiations that were being investigated by the commission at the time," commission general manager Geoff Thorn said.</p> <p>The commission said it accepted the Court of Appeal decision but would use the Tranz Rail example in future when applying for warrants.</p> <p>"We now have a New Zealand example of an Enron-like destruction of corporate information," Mr Thorn said.</p> <p>The commission’s investigation centred on claims that Tranz Rail may have exploited a dominant position by using targeted low prices &#8211 possibly below cost &#8211 to eliminate the rival Top Cat Cook Strait ferry operation.</p> <p>A spokeswoman for Tranz Rail’s new owners, Toll New Zealand, told New Zealand media that the alleged email deletions pre-dated Toll’s takeover. </p> <br />