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Tue November 28 2023

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Fit-out bosses banned for collusion

13 May 19 Three former directors of office fit-out companies that operated an illegal cartel have been banned from running companies.

The directors’ bans were secured by the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) following its investigation into collusion in the fit-out sector in London.

Six weeks ago five companies – Fourfront, Loop, Coriolis, ThirdWay and Oakley – were fined a total of more than £7m after admitting breaching competition law. A six the conspirator, Bluu Solutions, was let off for blowing the whistle on the cartel after being taken over by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).

Each company was found to have participated in cover bidding in competitive tenders, colluding on the prices they would bid for contracts, between 2006 and 2017. [See our previous report here.]

Now Robb Simms-Davies, a former director of Bluu Solutions Ltd, Bluuco Ltd and Tetris Projects Ltd, has been disqualified for five years.

Trevor Hall, a former director of Cube Interior Solutions Ltd, has been disqualified for two years six months, and Oliver James Hammond, a former director of Area Sq. Ltd, has been disqualified for two years.

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Bluu Solutions, Bluuco and Tetris Projects are part of the JLL group. Bluu Solutions and Bluuco were acquired by JLL in 2015. Cube Interior Solutions and Area Sq. Ltd are part of the Fourfront group of companies.

Simms-Davies, Hall and Hammond were directors of their respective companies at the time of the illegal cartel activity and contributed to a number of the competition law breaches, the CMA found. Simms-Davies contributed to 12 breaches affecting contracts with a total value of over £13.5m. Hall and Hammond each contributed to two breaches. In the case of Hammond the affected contracts were worth more than £4.3m. The contracts in the case of Hall had a total value of £1.2m. 

As a former director within the JLL group, Mr Simms-Davies would have been immune from director disqualification – since it was JLL that blew the whistle – but he had his protection withdrawn because he refused an interview with the CMA. Continuous and complete cooperation with the CMA’s investigation is a condition for leniency, it said.

The CMA said that it was continuing to investigate whether to seek the disqualification of other individuals in this case.

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