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Fit-out directors disqualified after cartel bust

10 May 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

The Competition and Markets Authority has disqualified three former directors of office fit-out firms for their involvement in illegal cartel behaviour.

It comes after five companies were ordered to pay £7m in fines when the CMA found in April this year that they had broken competition law at least ones and sometimes several times between 2006 and 2017.

 

 

Fourfront, Loop, Coriolis, ThirdWay and Oakley were required to pay fines totalling more than £7 million. Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. (JLL) was not required to pay a fine, having brought the conduct to the CMA’s attention under the CMA’s leniency programme.

Each company was found to have participated in “cover bidding” in competitive tenders, colluding on the prices they would bid for contracts.

Robb Simms-Davies, a former director of Bluu Solutions Ltd, Bluuco Ltd and Tetris Projects Ltd, has been disqualified for five years.

Trevor Hall, a former director of Cube Interior Solutions Ltd, has been disqualified for two years and six months, and Oliver James Hammond, a former director of Area Sq. Ltd, has been disqualified for two years.

Bluu Solutions Ltd, Bluuco Ltd and Tetris Projects Ltd are part of the JLL group of companies. Bluu Solutions Ltd and Bluuco Ltd were acquired by JLL in 2015. Cube Interior Solutions and Area Sq. Ltd are part of the Fourfront group of companies.

All three were directors of their respective companies at the time of the illegal cartel activity and contributed to a number of the competition law breaches, the CMA said. Simms-Davies contributed to 12 breaches affecting contracts with a total value of over £13.5 million. Hall and Hammond each contributed to two breaches. In the case of Hammond the affected contracts were worth over £4.3m. The contracts in the case of Hall had a total value of over £1.2 million. 

As a former director within the JLL group, Simms-Davies would have been immune from director disqualification but had his protection withdrawn because he did not submit to a voluntary interview with the CMA. Continuous and complete cooperation with the CMA’s investigation is a condition for leniency.

The CMA said it was continuing to investigate whether to seek the disqualification of other individuals in this case.

In a statement, it said: “It is important that company directors understand that they have a personal responsibility for ensuring that their companies comply with competition law. Failure to do so puts in question their fitness to be a director of a company.”

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