Mercedes & pals fined for market fixing

mercMercedes-Benz and three of its commercial dealers have been  slapped with fines after being found guilty of infringing competition law.

The brand, along with Ciceley, Road Range and Enza have been ordered to pay a total fine of £2.6 million after the watchdog found the quartet had been in cahoots over market sharing, price coordination and exchange of commercially sensitive information.

Despite admitting to joining in with the other four, dealer Northside was spared a fine for sucking up to the OFT.

The dealer was said to have come forward to “provide valuable” evidence of collusion in return for immunity from penalty under the OFT’s leniency policy.

The cartel were found guilty of cosying up in relation to the distribution of vans.

Between 15 January 2008 and 26 January 2010 Ciceley and Northside were said to have got together to manipulate the distribution of vans, while between 1 February 2008 and 26 January 2010  Ciceley and Road Range were found guilty.

Between 8 December 2009 and 26 January 2010 Ciceley, Enza, Mercedes-Benz and Road Range, were found to have manipulated the market when it came to the distribution of trucks.

Ali Nikpay, OFT Senior Director of Cartels, said the action showed that the watchdog would penalise companies that colluded to “deny customers the benefit of fair competition regardless of the size of the firms involved” – although a couple of million is arguably chump change for the group.

She added that the case also showed the watchdog could sniff out cartels regardless of whether someone grassed them up or not.