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Recruitment agencies fined for running price fixing cartel

Six construction recruitment specialists were last week fined a total of £39.3M for price fixing by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

A Warwick Associates, Beresford Blake Thomas, CDI AndersElite, Eden Brown, Fusion People, Hays Specialist Recruitment, Henry Recruitment and Hill McGlynn & Associates were found guilty of breaching the Competition Act 1998. Hays Specialist Recruitment was hit with the biggest fine of £30M.

All parties applied for and were granted leniency, apart from A Warwick Associates. Total fines before pleas for leniency were taken into account were £173M.

The parties formed a cartel, referred to as “the Construction Recruitment Forum”, which met five times between 2004 and 2006. In this forum, they agreed to boycott Parc, an intermediary company acting between construction companies and different recruitment agencies.

They also co-operated to fix the fee rates they would charge to intermediaries, such as Parc, and certain construction companies, including Atkins, Vinci and Taylor Woodrow.

Beresford Blake Thomas and Hill McGlynn & Associates have been granted immunity from fines as they are part of the corporate group which first provided the OFT with evidence of this cartel activity. All parties applied for and were granted leniency, apart from A Warwick Associates, which is in liquidation. Total fines before pleas for leniency were taken into account were £173M.

CDI Anders Elite, Eden Brown and Hays Specialist are considering an appeal. The investigation covered the period from late 2004 to early 2006.

OFT fines − after leniency

CompanyParentLeninencyFine
A Warwick
Associates
-0%£3,303
CDI AndersEliteCDI Corp30%£7,602,789
Eden Brown-35%£1,072,069
Fusion People-20%£125,021
Hays Specialist
Recruitment
Hays plc30%£30,359,129
Henry Recruitment-25%£108,043
Beresford Blake
Thomas
-100%£0

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