The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is enhancing its enforcement efforts against illegal cartels by offering a reward of up to £250,000, up from £100,000, to individuals who report illegal cartel activity.
Illegal cartels, which consist of businesses agreeing not to compete in order to keep their prices high, prevent consumers and other businesses from receiving a reasonable deal and stifle competition. Businesses that participate in cartels often go to great extent to conceal the cartel, as they are aware that cartels are illegal and deceive customers. This makes them difficult to detect and eradicate.
The CMA’s “Cheating or Competing” campaign provides tips for individuals and businesses on how to identify, report, and prevent illegal anti-competitive practices. It also incentivises witnesses of illegal activity to come forward by offering a reward and preserving their anonymity.
Additionally, the CMA provides a variety of guidance to help businesses and directors better understand how to comply with competition law. Individuals directly involved in cartels can face up to 5 years in prison, and company directors can be disqualified from holding directorships for up to 15 years if they are proven to have participated in illegal cartels.
The reward is separate to the CMA’s ‘leniency programme’, under which a business or individual that participated in a cartel may avoid sanctions if they come forward with information about the cartel, subject to certain conditions.