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Competition Law

Analysis - debate - current awareness

26 SEP 2014


John Cassels


Tesco's £250 million profits overstatement bombshell was brought to the attention of the GC and new Chief Executive by an internal whistleblower. Adequate bribery procedures include 'speaking up' or whistleblowing reporting lines as key features of any organisation's bribery prevention policy. And more than 70% of cartel investigations are triggered by whistleblowers seeking leniency. In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority has continued the OFT's policy of offering a cash reward of £100,000 for cartel whistleblowers (although those directly responsible responsible for cartel activity will not be able to benefit). For companies, confessing can deliver reductions or even immunity from fines. Examples of recent leniency discounts granted by the OFT are set out below:

Dairy - retail price incentives
ParticipantsLeniency applicant(s)Leniency discountReason
9Asda10%Total immunity from fines in relation to a separate infringement of the rules in other, separate, markets
RBS and Barclays - loan pricing
ParticipantsLeniency applicant(s)Leniency discountReason
2Barclays100%Full immunity under leniency policy for whistleblowing
Tobacco products - retail pricing
ParticipantsLeniency applicant(s)Leniency discountReason
12Sainsburys100%Full immunity under leniency policy for whistleblowing
T&S Stores40%Fine reduced reflecting leniency granted in Tesco, who acquired T&S in 2003
Asda10%Total immunity from fines in relation to a separate infringement of the rules in other, separate, markets
Construction Recruitment - constructive refusal to supply and price fixing
ParticipantsLeniency applicant(s)Leniency discountReason
7Ranstead100%Full immunity under leniency policy for whistleblowing
Eden Brown35%Fine reduction under leniency policy
CDI30%Fine reduction under leniency policy
Hays30%Fine reduction under leniency policy
Fusion People25%Fine reduction under leniency policy
Henry25%Fine reduction under leniency policy
Construction industry - bid-rigging
ParticipantsLeniency applicant(s)Leniency discountReason
103100%The OFT granted parties 100% reduction for any infringement that the OFT would not have known about but for the information provided by the leniency applicant
35-65%Where the OFT had information about a particular infringement from a source other than the leniency applicant, a reduction of between 35% and 65% was granted.
50%Five parties were granted a 50% reduction in fines in respect of infringements that the OFT had information about from another source.
45%Penalties imposed on 14 parties were reduced by 45%.
40%40% reduction was granted to 11 parties.
35% Three parties had their penalties reduced by 35%.

 If you would like to discuss these issues, please do not hesitate to contact John Cassels at john.cassels@fieldfisher.com.
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