Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is to pay a fine of £28.59 million for having engaged in anti-competitive practices with Barclays in relation to the pricing of loan products to large professional services firms.
Barclays brought the matter to the attention of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and has not been fined, thanks to the watchdog’s leniency policy.
The OFT concluded that between October 2007 and February or March 2008, individuals in RBS’s Professional Practices Coverage Team disclosed generic as well as specific confidential and commercially sensitive future pricing information to their counterparts at Barclays.
The disclosures took place “on the fringes of social, client or industry events” and in telephone conversations.
The OFT’s decision brings matters to a close, RBS having admitted to certain breaches of competition law and co-operated with OFT’s investigation.
The watchdog’s senior director of cartels and criminal enforcement, Ali Nikpay, says: “This decision sends out a strong message that such practices, even where they arise in the context of informal contacts between competitors, can result in substantial penalties for the companies involved.”