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Office of Fair Trading set to hit construction sector

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is set to hit the UK construction industry with fines which could total around £200 million. The OFT has been looking into construction company cartels which are alleged to have been involved in the fixing of tenders for construction contracts up to £3 billion in value. However, there is some confusion as to whether there will be legal challenges if these fines are deemed to be excessive.

This long-running saga involves 112 construction companies operating in the UK and it is inevitable that fines will be dished out this week after the initial findings were reported in April 2008. Among those companies involved in the investigation are Balfour Beatty, Crest Nicholson, Carillion and Kier to name but a few. While we await the full report which will detail each and every accusation aimed at the sector, many people believe that fundamentally there may be other issues which need further investigation.

There is also some debate as to whether construction cartels may well be operating in mainland Europe with an EC report set to be published in 2010. While the expected £200 million in fines may seem excessive on the surface, it will allow the sector to wipe the slate clean and effectively start again.

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