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Turn whistleblower and we’ll reward you, competition watchdog tells estate agents

Message is part of new campaign by the CMA to target the property industry as research shows many businesses have no idea that price-fixing is illegal.

Nigel Lewis

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a campaign to persuade estate agents to turn whistle-blower and report local competitors who they believe may be involved in illegal cartel activities.

Its ‘Do What’s Right’ campaign has also revealed that of the 1,000 companies it canvassed recently, only 57% realised it was illegal to fix prices despite last year’s high-profile case in the Somerset seaside town of Burnham on Sea, which saw four local agents fined a total of £372,233 for price-fixing.

The campaign has two key messages. These are that estate agents will be treated more leniently if they are involved in a cartel but report it before the activity is discovered, and an offer of financial rewards for agents who report suspected price-fixing among competitors.

The CMA also recently said it was to proceed with a second price-fixing cartel case after initial investigations into an as-yet unidentified group of estate agents, one of 15 cases currently under way within the construction, estate agency and roofing material industries.

“Businesses that fix prices are breaking the law and ripping people off,” says Howard Cartlidge, Senior Director of Cartels at the CMA (left).

“The victims are customers and other businesses, who are getting cheated out of a fair deal. We know that the vast majority of businesses want to do the right thing, but pleading ignorance simply isn’t good enough. Today’s campaign makes it easy to find out the facts.

“If you know of something illegal – do the right thing and tell us about it.”

Find out more from the CMA’s dedicated website.

 

 

October 23, 2018

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