The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a new national awareness campaign which aims to educate businesses about illegal cartel practices and encourages people to come forward if they suspect a business has taken part in such an activity.

It comes as new research shows many firms don’t know enough about how to comply with competition law.

Businesses found to have been involved in illegal cartels can be fined up to 10 percent of their annual turnover. Additionally, individuals can face up to 5 years in prison and directors can be disqualified from holding director positions for up to 15 years.

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Additionally, witnesses who report such illegal activities can receive a reward of up to £100,000.

ICM research, released by the CMA, shows that out of 1,000 companies surveyed:

  • Just over half knew it was illegal to fix prices
  • Nearly half either didn’t know or thought it was legal to discuss prices with competing bidders when quoting for new work
  • 59 percent did not know or thought that dividing up and sharing customers with rivals was legal

The campaign is targeting industries including construction, manufacturing, recruitment, estate agents and property management and maintenance.

Howard Cartlidge, Senior Director of Cartels at the CMA, said: “Businesses that fix prices or rig contracts are breaking the law and ripping people off. 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.”

Since April 2015, the CMA has issued over £155 million in fines following investigations into anti-competitive practices.

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