One of the executives, Peter Nigel Snee, who was a director of Franklin Hodge Industries at the time of the alleged cartel, pleaded guilty. The two other executives, Clive Dean, who was a director of Kondea Water Supplies and Nicholas Stringer, who was a director of Galglass, pleaded not guilty.
After deliberating for just 2 hours and 30 minutes (following three weeks of evidence), and in a unanimous verdict, the jury found Dean and Stringer not guilty of criminally conspiring to fix prices customers paid. Key to the acquittals was the failure of the antitrust authorities to persuade the jury that the executives had acted dishonestly. Mr Snee will appear before the judge for sentencing later in the year.
The UK has now changed the nature of the cartel offence to remove the requirement for dishonesty. The Competition and Markets Authority must be hoping that it can nail a successful prosecution in the very near future.
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