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31/08 29 February 2008
The OFT has today announced a policy under which it will pay financial incentives of up to £100,000 in return for information which helps it to identify and take action against illegal cartels.
More information is available in the cartels section.
The policy will run for an initial period of 18 months, after which a decision will be made whether this should be a permanent arrangement. Rewards will be paid only where information is accurate, verifiable and proves to be useful in the OFT's anti-cartel enforcement work, and will be calculated according to a set formula and not subject to negotiation.
Cartels are a particularly damaging form of anti-competitive behaviour and taking action against them is one of the OFT's priorities. Cartels are prohibited under the Competition Act, and any business found to be a member of a cartel could be fined up to ten per cent of its turnover. In addition, the Enterprise Act makes it a criminal offence for individuals to dishonestly take part in cartels, and anyone convicted of the offence could receive a maximum of five years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.
Simon Williams, OFT Senior Director of Cartels and Criminal Enforcement, said:
'Cartels are very damaging both to businesses and consumers and they are usually conducted in secret making them hard to detect. Cartels are not the preserve of big business - for example, if a local authority needs to find a contractor to refurbish its schools, it is unacceptable for local contractors to seek to rig the tender process by colluding on price. That's bad for taxpayers, consumers and other businesses. We believe that it is in the public interest to offer financial incentives in the hope that it will encourage more people who have good information about the existence of hard core cartel activity to come forward, and in exceptional circumstances these incentives may be as high as £100,000.'
Anyone who has information about cartels is asked to call the cartels hotline on 0800 085 1664 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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