Contractors found guilty of bid-rigging may face loss of public sector work

The Highways Agency is understood to be investigating whether its contractors are involved in the Office of Fair Trading inquiry into bid-rigging, fuelling fears that those found guilty may be axed from public work.

It is understood that the government body, which spends more than £1bn with the industry each year, has asked City lawyers if at least one of its contractors is caught up in a four-year OFT probe, the findings of which were published today.

Firms found guilty of cover pricing and bid rigging may be fined up to 10% of UK turnover, which could be as much as £300m for some.

Balfour Beatty, Carillion and Kier are among the 112 companies formally accused of bid-rigging activities.

One public sector body beside the Highway Agency has been asking contractors if they are involved in the inquiry. A source said: “Clients want to protect themselves from damage when the results of the inquiry are released. They’re asking themselves if they should deal with people caught up in it.”

Meanwhile, industry bodies are urging the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) to clarify its advice to public sector procurers on the legality of dropping implicated contractors from framework lists.