Commercial Flooring Cartel Conviction
Outcome of investigation
A cartel in the procurement of flooring contracts for major international companies in the Leinster area that was in existence between 2011 and 2013 was reported to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC). This led to the successful prosecution by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in 2015 and resulted in the conviction at the Central criminal Court in 2017 of Aston Carpets & Flooring and Brendan Smith, a former director of same. This was an historic case as it was the first conviction for “Bid-Rigging” in the history of the State, it was the first conviction for a cartel offence in the Central Criminal Court and also historic for the fact that Brendan Smith was additionally convicted for attempting to impede the criminal investigation that was carried out by the CCPC, the first time that such an additional conviction was resulted from a CCPC cartel investigation.
Outline of case
The CCPC opened its investigation following information received from a complainant which led to a co-ordinated CCPC search operation of a number of premises involved in the procurement of commercial flooring contracts. Further assistance was subsequently given to the investigation by an application made under the CCPC’s Cartel Immunity Programme. The Cartel immunity Programme is operated by the CCPC in conjunction with the Director of Public Prosecutions. It provides immunity to a member of a cartel if they are the first member to come forward, reveal their involvement in illegal cartel activity and fully co-operate with the CCPC’s investigation.
During the course of the investigation Brendan Smith was arrested by members from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) and detained under the provisions of Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984 for the purpose of interview by them in relation to the cartel offence. The CCPC provided assistance to the Gardaí from GNECB in this aspect of the investigation.
A full investigation file was submitted by the CCPC to the DPP in 2014 who directed that charges in the case be preferred. Proceedings were initiated in the District Court in 2015 and sentences were imposed in the Central Criminal Court on the 31 May 2017.
|Brendan Smith||Pleaded guilty in the Central Criminal Court (24 April 2017)||31 May 2017||Cartel Offence:
Disqualify as a Director for 5 years.
Attempt to Impede Offence:
3 months imprisonment suspended for 2 years.
|Aston Carpets & Flooring||Pleaded guilty in the Central Criminal Court (27 February 2017)||31 May 2017||€10,000 fine|