FINES totalling £2.6 million have been imposed by the Office of Fair Trading on Mercedes-Benz and three of its commercial vehicle dealers after they admitted breaking competition law.
The three separate infringements of the law varied, said the OFT, but all involved elements of market sharing, price co-ordination or exchange of commercially sensitive information.
The dealers concerned are active in the North of England and parts of Wales and Scotland. But not every party was involved in every infringement, and the conduct, products and duration varied from case to case.
The infringements occurred between 2008 and 2010.
The fines agreed include a 15% reduction from the total penalties of £3.07 million to reflect the companies’ admissions and co-operation with a streamlined administrative procedure.
- Mercedes-Benz will pay a total of £1,492,646.
- Ciceley Commercials and its parent Ciceley Ltd will pay £659,675.
- Enza Motors, its parent Enza Holdings, and its ultimate parent Enza Group Ltd will pay £347,198.
- Road Range will be liable for £115,774.
A fourth Mercedes-Benz dealer, Northside Truck & Van Ltd and its ultimate parent S.A.H. Ltd, will avoid a fine despite admitting infringing competition lawbecause it co-operated with the OFT as the investigation began.
It was the first company to come forward, said the OFT, and gave “valuable evidence of collusion in return for immunity from penalty under the OFT’s leniency policy”.
OFT Senior Director of Cartels Ali Nikpay told Business Vans: “These cases send a clear signal that the OFT will take firm action against companies that collude to deny customers the benefit of fair competition, regardless of the size of the firms involved or geographic scope of the investigation.
“These cases also underline that the OFT can uncover cartels even where the businesses involved do not blow the whistle, as well as being a concrete illustration of the benefits of businesses acting quickly and cooperating at the earliest opportunity so as to qualify for immunity from fines”.
In a statement issued by Mercedes-Benz, the company said: “The settlement reached with the OFT draws the investigation into this matter to a close. Mercedes-Benz takes its responsibilities under competition law seriously and has taken all appropriate steps to ensure all its staff comply fully with the law.”