Construction firms accused of price fixing
More than 100 construction firms were today accused of "bid-rigging" by competition watchdogs after one of the biggest ever investigations by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
Construction giants Balfour Beatty and Carillion are among the 112 firms alleged to have taken part in a cartel to fix prices when bidding for business.
The OFT said more than 40 companies had already admitted price-fixing in the inquiry so far, which first started after an initial complaint in the East Midlands.
Another 37 firms out of the 112 have applied for leniency, according to the OFT.
The inquiry spans 240 alleged cases where firms have colluded to inflate prices during a tender process, covering both the private and public sector, including building contracts for schools, universities and hospitals.
In a minority of more serious cases under investigation, the OFT alleged some firms agreed to make "compensation payments" to unsuccessful bidders, accompanied by false invoices.
The investigation follows a similar inquiry in the roofing industry by the OFT between 2004 and 2006, covering projects including the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham.
John Fingleton, OFT chief executive, said: "Cartel activity of the type alleged today harms the economy by distorting competition and keeping prices artificially high.
"This investigation, together with the OFT's previous decisions in the roofing sector, will hopefully send out a strong message to the construction industry about the seriousness with which we view suspected anti-competitive behaviour. Businesses have no excuses for not knowing and abiding by the law."
The OFT said today's investigation was sparked by a complaint from a health authority in the East Midlands, but added it "quickly became clear from the evidence that the practice of cover pricing was widespread".
The formal allegations cover neighbouring areas including Yorkshire and Humberside and also elsewhere in England.
It said the firms named in its investigation have 30 days to respond to the allegations.
Balfour Beatty confirmed that it was one of the firms that has applied for leniency from the OFT.
It said in a statement it had reviewed its compliance with the Competition Act in June 2007 and was "confident that all of its subsidiaries are now fully compliant".
The group said: "Balfour Beatty neither promotes nor condones anti-competitive behaviour. The company and its operating businesses have co-operated fully with the OFT in all aspects of its investigation. As a result and subject to ongoing co-operation, the OFT has granted leniency to Balfour Beatty, thus reducing any fines which might ultimately be levied on Balfour Beatty or any of its operating businesses.
"The company will respond to the OFT in respect of its statement of objections in due course."
Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts
Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets
George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios
Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?
Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination
- 2 Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake report claiming street artist's identity has been revealed
- 3 Are you ready for Crazy Doritos, the red-hot snack food craze sweeping Mexico’s streets?
- 4 Drink alcohol and eat meat to improve male fertility - but cut down on coffee, studies suggest
- 5 Former East 17 frontman Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
Isis in Kobani: US resupplies Kurdish fighters by plane - then Turkey allows reinforcements through its border
Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake report claiming street artist's identity has been revealed
Super-sized ships arrive in Britain: How big can they get?
Former East 17 frontman Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Lord Freud: Tory welfare minister apologises after saying disabled people are 'not worth’ the minimum wage
iJobs Money & Business
£18 - 23k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Customer Service Executiv...
£60 - 65k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a ASP.NET Web Developer / ....
£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...
£27000 - £32000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large charity ...