When Refusing To Do Wrong Can Still Mean Trouble
Breaches of competition law can lead to fearsome penalties and the law itself is very strict. In a recent case, a company that was invited to discussions on joining in cartel activity (which is illegal) and attended them, but refused to engage in the cartel, has been fined by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
The company attended a meeting and provided pricing information to the other attendees. Three companies went ahead and, following the uncovering of the cartel and a CMA investigation, were fined more than £2.6 million for offences such as bid rigging and 'market sharing'. The investigation started when a fourth company, which had joined the cartel, subsequently 'blew the whistle' and then cooperated with the CMA to gather the necessary evidence for the prosecution.
The company that blew the whistle received immunity from prosecution.
However, the company that attended discussions but refused to participate in the cartel activity was nonetheless fined £130,000 for unlawfully providing commercially sensitive pricing information to the cartel companies.