Top ten penalties in contract rigging probe

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) today issued fines totalling £129.5 million to 103 construction firms after an investigation into the rigging of contracts.

Here are the 10 biggest penalties issued and details of the incidents according to the OFT:

* £17.9 million - Kier Group

Kier was found to have arranged for competitor Jackson to offer a cover price to support its bid for a primary school contract in Peterborough in 2001. Kier did not win the £1.6 million deal.

In 2005 the firm was again found to have arranged for Jackson to offer a higher bid, this time over a contract for the Adnams distribution centre in Reydon, Southwold. It did not win this £6.4 million contract.

On another occasion it was one of five firms engaged in cover pricing out of six bidders for a £1.1 million nursery at Westfield Primary School in York.

* £11.6 million - Interserve

The firm was given a cover price by Mowlem - now owned by Carillion - over the tender for a police station in Spennymoor, County Durham in 2000. Mowlem did not win the £2.3 million contract.

In the same year Interserve also agreed with a Balfour Beatty subsidiary to tender a higher price for the contract for an apartment block on Summerhill Terrace, Birmingham. Balfour did not win the contract and the £5.9 million price was later negotiated down.

* £8.3 million - Ballast

In 2001 Ballast was the winning bidder for a £618,000 garage and workshop contract at the Chilwell Territorial Army Centre in Nottingham after arranging for rival Sol to bid a cover price.

Later that year the firm agreed with Mansell to offer a higher bid for the £350,000 contract for a music and drama block at Herschel Grammar School in Slough. Mansell was unsuccessful.

It was also one of four firms - out of seven total bidders - for the £1.6 million environmental works contract at Burley Lodge, Leeds in 2001.

* £8.3 million - Galliford Try/ Try Accord

Try Accord won the £3.8 million contract for building work at Uxbridge College in 2001 after instructing Mansell to offer a cover price.

Galliford Try was instructed by Sol to bid higher in its unsuccessful attempt to win the £4.3 million contract for the new judo hall at the University of Wolverhampton in 2003.

In 2004 JH Hallam won its £523,000 bid for work at Buswells Lodge Primary School in Leicester after Galliford Try agreed to offer a cover price.

* £7.6 million - Bowmer & Kirkland

The firm was instructed by Sol to give a cover price for the construction of a superstore, shops and petrol station at St Andrew's Retail Park in Birmingham in 2000. Sol won the £8.5 million contract.

In 2001 Bowmer was the successful bidder for a £581,000 contract for alteration works at the Derby Telegraph after it arranged for Herbert Baggaley to offer a cover price. The OFT said Bowmer paid the other firm around £10,000 in "compensation". Only one other company bid for the contract.

One of the firm's subsidiaries, along with Milward, offered cover prices as part of Derwent Valley's winning £96,000 deal for classroom extensions at Crich Fritchley Primary School in Derbyshire.

* £6.7 million - Durkan and related companies

The company received around £60,000 from Mansell as part of the latter firm's successful £2.9 million re-tender of luxury shopping centre Dover Street Market in London in 2003.

Durkan asked Mansell to offer a cover price for its 2005 bid for work at Claremont Close, London. It did not win the £931,000 deal.

The following year it asked a Balfour Beatty subsidiary to give a cover price for another unsuccessful bid for refurbishment on South Molton Street, London. The contract went to another bidder for £1.5 million.

* £6.2 million - John Sisk & Son and parent firm Sicon

In 2003 the firm arranged for rival Thomas Vale to offer a cover price in its winning £2.7 million bid for Waterfront Business Park, in the West Midlands.

* £5.6 million - Connaught

Connaught won its £1.7 million bid for work on Wates Houses, Windsor in 2001 after arranging for Mansell to offer a cover price.

In 2002 it was one of three firms engaged in cover pricing out of four total bidders for the £2 million contract to work on 194 homes on Ferguson Lane in Newcastle.

The firm offered a cover price for Henry Boot's bid for the refurbishment of Silverwood Flats, Doncaster in 2003. Neither firm won the £1.7 million deal.

* £5.4 million - Carillion JM, infringements relate to Mowlem which was taken over by Carillion in 2006.

In 2000 the firm was unsuccessful in its bid for the £2.3 million contract for a new police station in Spennymoor after arranging for Interserve to offer a higher bid.

Later that year it was one of four firms engaged in cover pricing out of a total of six bidders in Henry Boot's winning bid for the £4.1 million contract to refurbish 112 flats at Saxton Gardens in Leeds.

RG Building was successful in its £4.5 million bid for three new sports complexes in Lincolnshire in 2004 after arranging for Carillion to offer a cover price.

* £5.2 million - Balfour Beatty / Mansell

Balfour Beatty subsidiaries were listed as involved in four different incidents of cover pricing, while Mansell which it now owns is implicated in no less than 26 separate bid-rigging attempts.

In 2003 Mansell paid approximately £60,000 to Durkan for offering a cover price in its winning £2.9 million bid for work on Dover Street Market.

The firm was also the recipient of two "compensation" payments. In December 2001 it received around £2,500 from Herbert Baggaley as part of the latter firm's winning £747,000 bid for office extensions in Bath Street, Mansfield.

The next year it was paid around £10,000 by Wildgoose for offering a cover price in the successful £545,000 bid for work on Burton College in Burton upon Trent.

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