London: Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc has been fined £28.59 million by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for breaching competition laws by some of its employees, who handed over price sensitive information to a rival.
The fine has been reduced from £33.6 million as RBS itself admitted to breach of competition law between October 2007 and March 2008 and agreed to cooperate with OFT, the UK’s consumer and competition regulating authority.
“The agreement follows an OFT investigation which found that individuals in RBS’ Professional Practices Coverage Team had unilaterally disclosed generic as well as specific confidential future pricing information to their counterparts at Barclays Bank,” the OFT said in a statement.
The OFT also found evidence that the information was taken into account by Barclays in determining its own pricing.
The matter was brought to attention by Barclays under the OFT’s leniency policy, where a company which is the first to report its participation in an infringement may qualify for immunity from penalties.
Thus, Barclays is not expected to pay a fine in this case, provided it continues to cooperate, it added.
“Any company that discloses confidential future pricing information to its competitors risks a substantial penalty. It is important that companies operating in the UK understand the seriousness of such conduct and ensure effective competition compliance throughout their organisation,” OFT Senior Director of Cartels and Criminal Enforcement Ali Nikpay said.