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Nick Brown, 48, has been disqualified from being a director or running a business for seven years.

In February the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) secured disqualification undertakings from Michael Cantillon (former director of Cantillon), David Darsey (former director of Erith) and Paul Cluskey (director of Cantillon) for their key roles in operating a bid rigging racket in the demolition industry. In addition, 10 companies were fined a total of nearly £60m for illegally colluding to rig bids. The 10 companies were: Brown & Mason, Cantillon, Clifford Devlin, DSM, Erith, JF Hunt, Keltbray, McGee, Scudder and Squibb. [See our previous report here.]

The CMA said that Brown did not offer an undertaking until after he had been put on formal notice of its intention to apply to the court for a disqualification order against him. Had he given an undertaking before the formal notice, his period of disqualification would not have been as long, the CMA said.

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Nick Brown, now managing director of the Brown & Mason Group, was a director of Brown & Mason Limited at the time the illegal cartel activity took place. He has admitted to being involved in two breaches of competition law affecting contracts for demolition services with a total value of over £30m including one relating to the Shell Building on London’s Southbank, and the other relating to the Lots Road Power Station in London.

‘Compensation payments’ with an aggregate value of £700,000 (excluding VAT) were paid to Brown & Mason by two competitors in return for Brown & Mason’s participation in the anti-competitive agreements. Brown has admitted taking a ‘central role’ in this conduct, including by instructing staff to collect the payments by issuing invoices relating to ‘fictional services and goods’ that were not in fact ever supplied by Brown & Mason. Brown further acknowledged that, as a shareholder in Brown & Mason, he stood to benefit personally from these payments, and that he understood at the time that his conduct was wrong.

CMA enforcement director Michael Grenfell said: “Company directors need to take personal responsibility for ensuring that their companies comply with competition law. People and businesses need to be protected from illegal anti-competitive practices. Company directors who fall short can expect to face the prospect of disqualification.”

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