Just last week we published a story discussing how Mercedes-Benz has recently announced their five new safety systems for vans and were pleased with their success when it comes to the commercial vehicle market. However, it has now been revealed that the company is being fined £2.6 million by the Office of Fair Trading due to the fact that they have infringed on competition laws along with three of their dealers. Competition laws are taken extremely seriously by the Office of Fair Trading in order to make sure that the public are protected when it comes to buying goods or services such as insurance for vans.
In September 2010 the then managing director of Mercedes-Benz UK’s truck division, Ian Jones, was arrested following a raid at the company’s Milton Keynes offices. He was later released without charge, however the Office of Fair Trading then launched an investigation over the company for the next few years which has finally resulted in the million pound fine. The company has been fined for “market sharing, price coordination or exchange of commercially sensitive information” by the watchdog, with four dealers including Ciceley, Road Range, Enza and Northside.
Ciceley, Road Range and Enza have all also been fined by the Office of Fair Trading, however even though Northwood admitted infringing competition law they will not be fined due to their role as a whistle blower to the watchdog. The infringements included the distribution of vans between Ciceley and Northwood between 15th of January 2008 and 26th of January 2010, Cicely and Road Range between 1st February 2008 and 26th January 2010, and Ciceley, Enza, Mercedes-Benz and Road Range between 8th December 2009 and 26th January 2010.
In a statement concerning the fine, a spokesman from the commercial vehicle manufacturer said: “Mercedes-Benz UK has reached a settlement with the Office of Fair trading for one infringement of competition law relating to its recent investigation into the company and three of its commercial vehicle dealers operating in northern England and Wales. Mercedes-Benz regrets the incident and has learned a lot from it. The company has strengthened its internal controls, and every member of staff participates in comprehensive and ongoing Integrity training programmes.”
“The company and its staff have fully co-operated with the investigators over the past three years. This thorough OFT investigation took three years to complete, and the agreed settlement with Mercedes-Benz UK relates to one meeting held in late 2009. The settlement figure, based on company turnover is £1.49 million. The settlement reached with the OFT draws the investigation into this matter to a close. Mercedes-Benz takes its responsibilities under competition law seriously and has taken all appropriate steps to ensure all its staff comply fully with the law.”