Two of the estate agency bosses involved in the recent Berkshire cartel case have been disqualified from being company directors for six-and-a-half years.
These are Stephen Jones of Richard Worth and Neil Mackenzie of Michael Hardy.
The disqualifications have been secured by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) which late last year completed an investigation into four estate agencies operating in the Berkshire towns of Wokingham, Winnersh, Crowthorne, Bracknell and Warfield.
Jones and Mackenzie were involved in one of the most shocking sales commission fee-fixing cartels uncovered within the UK in recent times, mainly because it had operated for seven years without detection.
As previously uncovered when a similar cartel was uncovered in 2018 in Burnham-on-Sea, the four Berkshire agents exchanged confidential information on pricing and held meetings to ensure all members of the cartel enforced and maintained the agreed minimum rates.
Three of the four agents – Richard Worth, Neil Mackenzie and Prospect were collectively fined £600,000 in January. A fourth estate agency, Romans, was not fined because it had been the firm that brought the cartel to the attention of the CMA.
“Company directors have an important responsibility to make sure their firms don’t take part in this kind of anti-competitive behaviour,” says Michael Grenfell (left), the CMA’s Executive Director of Enforcement.
“Today’s disqualifications should send a clear message to the sector – stay on the right side of the law or face the consequences.”