A former director of an Irish car company has been given a 15-month suspended prison sentence and fined £145,000 (€160,000) for price-fixing, in breach of competition law.
James Bursey pleaded guilty to four charges of implementing and taking part in agreements with other local car dealers in Leinster to fix prices of Citroen vehicles, reported irishtimes.com.
Bursey, who was director of Bursey Peppard Motors in Dublin, was a member of the Citroen Dealers Association, which had its first meeting in April 1995 and operated until 2004.
Members of the association agreed to implement a scheme in which prices were set in relation to maximum discounts from the recommended retail price, delivery charges, accessory prices, trade-in values and export prices. These agreed minimum prices were printed up and circulated to members by the association secretary.
It set monetary penalties for breaches of the agreement and hired secret shoppers to go into dealerships and check that members were sticking to the agreement.
Bursey pleaded guilty to authorising the company, as director, to enter into and to implement an agreement with other undertakings to prevent, restrict and distort competition by directly or indirectly fixing prices of Citroën cars in Leinster between July 8, 1996 and June 30, 2002. He also pleaded guilty to two similar charges on behalf of the company.
Bursey Peppard had a turnover of nearly €6.2 million for nine months in 2006 and nearly €3.2 million in 2007 and 2008.
The company ceased trading in October 2008 after experiencing difficulty with losses of over €500,000.