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Roofing cont ractors fined for price fixing

NEWS - OFT crackdown uncovers 13 . rms colluding to rig tenders across the UK

THIRTEEN roofing contractors were fined a total of £2.3 million for price-fixing last week as the Office of Fair Trading continued its crackdown on construction.

Investigators discovered the firms were rigging flat roofing and car park surfacing contracts in the south-east, the Midlands, Doncaster, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London. Clients affected included developers at the New Bull Ring in Birmingham and a string of local authorities.

One firm, Rock Asphalte, paid losing contractors compensation for backing off contracts or providing cover bids they knew would be higher than their own inflated tenders. Briggs Roofing & Cladding was paid £15,000 and £50,000 in relation to two contracts and Prater was paid £35,000 in respect of one contract.

Vincent Smith, the OFT's director of competition enforcement, said: 'The OFT will levy substantial fines on companies which collude to rig tenders. We will act particularly severely where we find compensation payments are offered or solicited in return for rigging bids.

'This case is part of our ongoing competition enforcement focus on the construction industry, one of five priority areas.' The 13 firms had their fines reduced to £1.6 million for various degrees of co-operation with the investigation. Briggs had its fine reduced to zero for being the first to volunteer information.

The firms are: Anglo Asphalt, Asphaltic Contracts, Briggs Roofing & Cladding, Cambridge Asphalte, Coverite, Durable Contracts, Holme Asphalt, Makers UK, Pirie Group, Prater, Rio Asphalt & Paving, Rock Asphalte and WG Walker & Company.

The probe is the fifth major prosecution against flat roofing contractors by the OFT.

It has resulted in £4.3 million in fines.

The previous investigations discovered two price fixing rings in Scotland and collusive tendering in the north-east and the West Midlands.

Four firms in the latest case ? Briggs, Pirie, Rio Asphalt and WG Walker ? were also involved in the earlier investigations.