Mercedes-Benz vans in OFT row
The OFT has issued what it calls a 'statement of objections' in which it alleges that Mercedes-Benz and five truck and van dealers have infringed competition law.
The case involves five alleged infringements that took place between March 2007 and January 2010. Each alleged infringement involved two or three dealers. The OFT's provisional finding is that Mercedes-Benz was also involved in two of the alleged infringements.
The precise content of the arrangements differs among the five alleged infringements but all contain at least some element of market sharing, price co-ordination and exchange of commercially sensitive information.
The OFT also alleges that, in respect of two of the alleged infringements, Mercedes-Benz helped to facilitate or consolidate the arrangements.
Ali Nikpay, the OFT's senior director of cartels, said: 'Based on the evidence currently before us, we have reason to believe that these dealers co-operated to limit competition in their areas.
'This case, which involves dealers who are mainly active in areas within the North of England and parts of Wales and Scotland, shows the OFT's commitment to pursuing allegations of serious competition law infringements irrespective of the size of the companies involved or the geographic scope of the case.
'These are the OFT's provisional findings only. All parties will now have a full opportunity to respond to our statement before we decide whether competition law has in fact been infringed,' she added.
Under OFT procedures, all the parties involved have 10 weeks to respond to the allegations. In a statement Mercedes-Benz UK said it would analyse the information and then give feedback to the OFT.