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CMA seeks bans for estate agents in commission fixing cartel

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  • 28/02/2019
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CMA seeks bans for estate agents in commission fixing cartel
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is seeking the disqualification of two more directors of estate agencies which formed an illegal price fixing cartel.

 

Michael Martin and Graham Thompson are part of a gang of six estate agents in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset which was found to have broken competition law by fixing minimum commission levels.

Martin was formerly a director of Gary Berryman Estate Agents Limited, The Property Group (2010) Limited and Warne Investments Limited, and Thompson was formerly a director of Saxons PS Limited.

The six estate agents met in early 2014 and agreed to fix minimum commission rates at 1.5% with the aim of making the agents involved more money.

However, the plot was uncovered and in 2017 the CMA fined the group a combined £370,084 – although one member was let off for being the first to confess its participation and for co-operating.

Subsequently David Baker and Julian Frost, directors of participant Abbott and Frost Estate Agents, gave disqualification undertakings not to act as a director of any UK company for three and a half years, and three years respectively.

 

Others co-operating

The Competition and Markets Authority issued the latest proceedings against Martin and Thompson in the High Court of Justice, Business and Property Courts.

It will be down to the court to decide whether to make a disqualification order against each director.

However, the regulator has also said it will not presume similar measures against others involved in the cartel if they continue to cooperate with it.

“Provided they continue to comply with the terms of their leniency agreement, the CMA will not seek the disqualification of the co-operating directors of three of the estate agents, which qualified for leniency under the CMA’s leniency policy,” it said.

 

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