In depth analysis by the nationals into the OFT's bid-rigging investigation of the construction industry

The OFT inquiry remained in the headlines over the weekend, with the Economist questioning builders’ intellect and the Sunday Times saying that construction has always been a “happy hunting ground” for fraud investigators…..

Crooked builders – Construction Cartels

The Economist poses the question “are builders dim or devious?” in its coverage of the OFT inquiry, before settling for the line that it is both: “Perhaps no better could be expected from an industry that has proved singularly dim in its deviousness.” The magazine also makes the point that the heavy handling of the case by the OFT is probably intended to serve as a deterrent to other industries.

Builders own up to rigging bids for work

The Sunday Times ran a background piece on the investigation, saying construction has proved a “happy hunting ground” for fraud and competition investigators in the past. The paper records that in the early 1990s the Serious Fraud Office cracked a ring of businessmen that was corruptly influencing the awarding of contracts for North Sea pipe and steel fabrication. Throughout the 1990s the OFT scored successes against regional cartels in the supply of ready-mixed concrete.

Taking stock

The Mail on Sunday’s City column controversially suggests that the lack of a hit to construction companies’ share prices at the end of last week was “almost as if investors had always assumed that builders liked a bung before even delivering the bricks”.