UK watchdog to investigate supply chain cartels

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has joined a new working group of international competition regulators to tackle collusion in the supply chain.

The group is made up of the UK competition watchdog, the United States Department of Justice, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Canadian Competition Bureau, and the New Zealand Commerce Commission.

The five authorities are concerned about higher prices resulting from supply chain disruption and that some companies could take advantage of this to engage in anti-competitive collusion.

The five authorities will meet regularly to share intelligence to detect and investigate suspected anti-competitive behaviour and collusion.

The government said the regulators are making co-ordinated statements putting firms on notice that those “attempting to use supply chain disruptions as a cover for illegal anticompetitive conduct, including collusion, will face the full force of the law”.

In the UK, firms could face penalties of up to 10 per cent of their global turnover, disqualification of directors, and in some cases criminal prosecution.

“People and businesses across the world have been facing higher prices for goods and for transporting them,” said Michael Grenfell, executive director of enforcement, CMA. “While price rises can be legitimate, the CMA would be concerned if collusive anti-competitive practices are contributing to these rises or preventing prices from coming down.

“The CMA is ready to use its legal powers where it finds evidence that the issues in the supply chain might be caused by potential breaches of competition law.

“These are global issues that are best addressed together. With support and intelligence from partner agencies across the world, we can step in and take enforcement action if we find evidence of anti-competitive behaviour taking place.”

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