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Two estate agent directors banned for price fixing roles

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  • 15/06/2020
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Two estate agent directors banned for price fixing roles
A pair of estate agent directors have each been banned for six and a half years for their roles in an illegal price-fixing cartel.

 

The directors are the first to be prosecuted as part of the cartel in Berkshire which the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) uncovered last year and saw three firms fined a combined £600,000.

Stephen Jones and Neil Mackenzie were directors at estate agents Richard Worth and Michael Hardy respectively from September 2008 to May 2015.

During this time, their firms took part in a cartel with two other local estate agents where they set minimum rates for commission on the sale of residential properties in Wokingham, Winnersh, Crowthorne, Bracknell and Warfield – where they were the leading estate agents at that time.

Both Jones and Mackenzie have now been disqualified for six and a half years for their roles in the cartel, meaning they cannot act as directors of any companies or be involved in the management of any company based in England, Scotland or Wales during this time.

In January, the CMA detailed the seven-year cartel how it was formed, enacted, and policed – which included penalty payments between the firms for breaking the rules of the cartel.

This meant that homeowners in the areas were denied the chance of securing the best possible deal when selling their property because they were unable to meaningfully shop around all their local estate agents for a better commission rate.

 

Third cartel

The CMA has been focusing on the estate agency sector, with this being the third such cartel to be found in the last five years.

CMA executive director of enforcement Michael Grenfell said: “Selling your home can be a stressful and expensive experience, and one that shouldn’t be made harder by estate agents conspiring to cheat homeowners out of the best deal.

“Company directors have an important responsibility to make sure their firms don’t take part in this kind of anti-competitive behaviour.

“Today’s disqualifications should send a clear message to the sector – stay on the right side of the law or face the consequences.”

 

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