Groundworks cartel probe: firms given more time to respond

4 November 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

The amount of time three groundworks firms have to respond to accusations by the competition watchdog that they co-ordinated to keep prices up has been extended.

The three firms – M.G.F. (Trench Construction Systems) Ltd, Mabey Hire Ltd and Vp plc – were named in the Competition and Markets Authority’s “statement of objections” in April this year.

They were accused of sharing confidential information on pricing and commercial strategy and coordinating their commercial activities.

The CMA alleged in its provisional findings that Vp and MGF operated the cartel for periods totalling nearly two years and Mabey took part for a single period of five months.

The three companies were originally given until July to make written and oral representations in response to the statement of objections. That was extended until October, and today the CMA announced that the deadline would be pushed back again until December.

The allegations came to light after Mabey blew the whistle and brought information about the conduct to the CMA’s attention. Mabey will now not be fined, in accordance with the CMA’s leniency programme – provided it continues to cooperate with the CMA’s investigation.

The CMA’s findings are, at this stage in its investigation, provisional and do not necessarily lead to a decision that the companies have breached competition law. The firms now have the opportunity to consider the detail of the CMA’s provisional findings and respond to it.

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