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OFT's Day Of Reckoning

The OFT gets set to present evidence of its investigation into 'cover bidding'.

A government probe into price fixing in the construction industry will present its evidence to suspected firms later this month, it was revealed this week.

The investigation, the biggest in the Office of Fair Trading's (OFT) history, could see companies found guilty of uncompetitive behaviour fined 10% of their turnover.

Balfour Beatty, Galliford Try, Interserve, Rok, Connaught and Kier have confirmed that they are co-operating with the OFT, but have not admitted involvement in any cartel activity.

"We are one of the 150 companies being investigated," confirmed a Connaught spokesman. "They are casting a wide net."
The OFT investigation is focusing on cover bidding, where firms agree to submit uncompetitively high bids to ensure that one firm, bidding lower, wins the job.

It is the largest ever UK cartel case with over 3,000 suspect contracts worth £3bn in total. Last year the OFT confirmed that 38 companies had come forward to "confess" and assist with its investigations.

Any companies coming forward to help the OFT before it publishes its evidence – its statement of objections of objections – later this month can expect to have a reduction in penalties.

The statement of objections is a legal document issued to the companies involved listing what examples of price fixing or uncompetitive behaviour the OFT has found. When it is issued later this month, the companies will have a chance to respond and the OFT will publicly announce the companies implicated

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