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Three directors banned after companies formed lead cartel

August Graham, PA City Reporter
·2-min read

Three men have been banned from being directors of UK companies after the firms they worked for admitted forming an illegal cartel.

Jocelyn Campbell, Graham Hudson and Maurice Sherling were given bans of between three and six-and-a-half years after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) secured their disqualification for breaking competition law.

The cartel saw Associated Lead Mills (ALM) and HJ Enthoven, which trades as BLM British Lead, collude on rolled lead prices.

The companies also arranged not to target certain customers in order to split the market between them, and agreed not to supply a new business because it risked disrupting existing relationships with customers.

“Each of the arrangements included exchanges of competitively-sensitive information,” said the CMA, adding that they had broken the law four times.

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The companies have already been fined £1.5 million and £8 million respectively for their roles.

Now the three directors also face personal consequences.

The CMA said Mr Campbell, who worked for BLM, tried to conceal his communications with other businesses by using a separate mobile phone, which was later seized by the authority.

His second phone was in use between December 2016 and July 2017, when the CMA’s investigation began.

He faced the biggest penalty of the three, being disqualified for six-and-a-half years.

Mr Sherling had suspected that ALM, where he worked, was breaking competition law and receiving sensitive information from Mr Campbell, but he admitted doing nothing to stop it.

His three-year ban was the most lenient.

Mr Hudson was banned for four years.

CMA executive director Michael Grenfell said: “It’s an important responsibility of company directors to ensure that their companies don’t engage in illegal anti-competitive practices, which can lead to higher prices for customers.

“The CMA has clear evidence that these directors either knowingly entered into illegal arrangements and communications, or were aware of them and did nothing to stop them.That’s why these measures are needed.

“This should be a message to all directors – if your company breaches competition law, you risk personal disqualification.”

The two companies are major players in the UK’s rolled lead market, an important product for the construction sector.