OFT gets tough on price-fixing in construction industry

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The Independent Online
THE Office of Fair Trading is cracking down on cartels, particularly in the construction industry, with the creation of a permanent task force aimed at stamping out price-fixing.

The clampdown follows successful court actions against concrete giant RMC and other companies and comes as industry associations tighten their own rules on the sharing of price and volume information between their members.

The Government's watchdog is not relying on formal rules, however, counting instead on whistle-blowing employees to inform it if their bosses are rigging markets.

Although the new task forces will look at other industries, its primary area of concern will be the building trades, and particularly the materials supply side of the business.

"There are more cartels discovered in the construction industry than anywhere else," said an OFT spokesman. "Construction materials are the most likely to be subject to cartels because there are few suppliers."

Last summer the OFT successfully prosecuted 17 ready-mixed concrete companies for breaching a 1979 court order on anti-competitive agreements.