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UK — Eden Brown could appeal cartel fine

05 October 2009

James Caan, star of UK TV programme ‘Dragons’ Den’ has revealed his recruitment agency Eden Brown is likely to appeal the 1.07 million Pounds fine against it, after the firm was found guilty of participating in a cartel that set fee rates for certain construction companies.

Eden Brown, which is owned by Mr Caan’s HB Human Capital investment fund, was one of six construction labour suppliers to be hit with a total fine of almost 40 million Pounds by the Office of Fair Trading. The cartel was found to have fixed prices, and collectively boycotted a new competitor in the market, between 2004 and 2006.

Speaking to Construction News, Mr Caan — whose company purchased Eden Brown in 2007, after the actions for which the firms were penalised took place — said he believed the level of the fine was "unfair".

The dragon added: "The fine relates to activities prior to the purchasing of the company. We were made aware of the situation when we invested in it and we have co-operated [with the OFT]. I can’t comment further, but I think Eden Brown will appeal the decision."

Asked whether he had a message for contractors concerned about the price-fixing scandal Mr Caan declined to comment, reiterating his group had not owned the firm when the activity occurred.

The companies involved in the cartel were Hays Specialist Recruitment, A Warwick Associates, CDI AndersElite, Eden Brown, Fusion People, Henry Recruitment, Beresford Blake Thomas and Hill McGlynn & Associates.

Mr Caan’s reaction follows the response from Hays Recruitment last week which said it was actively considering an appeal after it was hit hardest with a 30 million Pounds penalty. It claimed the fine followed "an isolated matter arising from the conduct of a single employee."



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