Fines for Channel Island firms breaking competition laws

Andrew Riseley
Image caption Andrew Riseley says consumers lose out when businesses limit competition

Businesses in Jersey and Guernsey which break competition laws will be punished with penalties from the regulator.

New guidelines from the Channel Islands Competition and Regulatory Authorities (CICRA) also cover a leniency policy for cartels.

Andrew Riseley, from CICRA, said firms willing to "whistleblow" and stop participating in cartels should not be put off doing so by high fines.

CICRA is consulting with businesses to explain the new guidelines.

But Mr Riseley said CICRA was yet to find a cartel in the islands.

He said the fines could not be more than 10% of the worldwide turnover of the business and corporate group which it belonged to, during the time the law is broken up to a maximum of three years.

'Fixing prices'

Mr Riseley said the watchdog had a wide range of powers to investigate businesses suspected of breaching the laws.

He said: "Consumers lose out where businesses that should be competing for custom act as a cartel and limit competition; for example, by conspiring to fix prices, share customers or rig bids in contract tenders.

"The proposed new guidelines make it clear that any business participating in cartel activity is exposing itself to the risk of very significant financial penalties.

"However, it can avoid that risk by disclosing the existence of the cartel to CICRA and benefit from total immunity, or a significant reduction in the level of penalty if it meets the leniency policy criteria."

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