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Fines warning for OFT investigation

Fines totalling “hundreds of millions” could be handed out to construction firms found guilty of illegal cartel activity, lawyers have warned.

Legal firm Berwin Leighton Paisner gave the warning at a seminar on investigations by the Office of Fair Trading for the Chartered Institute of Building in London last night.

The probe has been running for three years, following an investigation in the East Midlands.

In all, 57 construction companies have received dawn raids from investigators. OFT deputy director of the cartels group Deborah Jones updated contractors on the investigation.

BLP lawyer David Harrison warned that total punishments meted out for the industry could be huge.

He said: “Fines could be in terms of hundreds of millions – we’ll be talking very large amounts.”

The OFT will send out its Statement of Objections to firms in Spring 2008, with prosecutions expected in 2009.

For more on this story, read Thursday's Construction News