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Culture change needed to rid construction of corruption, says industry boss

Corruption in construction will only be tackled with a dramatic culture change on a scale last seen in the reform of health and safety in the industry, according to chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) Chris Blythe this week.

Blythe's comments came as he chaired a seminar on the implications of the Office of Fair Trade’s (OFT) recent investigation into the UK’s largest ever cartel case, primarily concerned with the practice of cover bidding in the construction industry.

This involves two contractors colluding to agree a bid price.

Deborah Jones, deputy director of the cartels group at OFT told the seminar that it was currently investigating companies involved in over 3,000 contracts worth a total in excess of £3bn. Contracts range in price from £30,000 up to £25M.

To date, the investigation has involved 57 dawn raids with 38 companies making leniency applications in return for full co-operation.

The meeting was hosted by construction law specialists Berwin Leighton Paisner. Partner Adrian Magnus, said the fallout from investigation is likely to be costly.

While fines could potentially run into hundreds of millions of pounds, the real cost is likely to be formation of legal compliance departments to ensure bids stay within the law.

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