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Regulation & Law

Berkshire cartel estate agency duo to be banned from being directors

CMA says it has started proceedings that will see Stephen Jones and Neal Mackenzie barred from running businesses for up to five years.

Nigel Lewis

Two of the estate agency staff involved in a Berkshire price fixing cartel are to be struck off as company directors, possibly for as long as five years.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has issued the strike-off proceedings under section 9A of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986.

The two directors involved are Stephen Jones (left), a director of Worth Holdings Limited and Richard Worth Limited, and Neal Mackenzie (below) who is a director of Hardy & Company (Wokingham) Limited, Michael Hardy & Company (Lettings) Limited and Geocharbert UK Limited.

In June last year the CMA revealed that its investigation into four Berkshire agencies, including Richard Worth, Michael Hardy, a branch of Romans and Prospect, had uncovered evidence of price fixing.

The four companies involved were fined a total of just over £600,000. The Romans and Prospect directors are to be spared being struck off after cooperating with the original investigation.

Jones and Mackenzie are likely to be banned from holding directorships and performing certain roles in relation to a company either by court order or a legally binding undertaking.

In January the shocking details of emails sent between the four men were published by the CMA, revealing how the cartel was prompted by the severe downturn in the economy and property market following the global financial crash of 2008.

The initial agreement was to set a minimum fee of £2,500 or 1.75% and a multiple agency fee of 3%. The average fee was between 1.7% and 1.8% but did drop down to 1.5% where competition was weakest. The cartel covered five Berkshire towns; Wokingham, Winnersh, Crowthorne, Bracknell and Warfield.

April 1, 2020

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