Banks raided as part of price-fixing investigation

2 June 2008

Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland have had their offices raided by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) as part of an investigation into pricing fixing in the professional loans market.

The OFT has confirmed that it raided both the banks as part of its investigation into alleged anti-competitive conduct, and that Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland are the only two firms involved in the investigation.

A spokesman for Barclays says it tipped off the OFT in March after members of its professional services team were approached in “a manner which we regarded as inappropriate”.

He adds: “As a result, the OFT started an investigation in which Barclays is participating. The investigation is operating within the confines of the professional services banking area and we believe that, if there is any issue, it starts and stops there. Barclays can confirm that it is the leniency applicant.”

Barclays has a 60-strong team within its professional services department, which offers specialist banking skills to businesses.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Bank of Scotland confirmed it was being investigated but declined to comment further.

Many banks have professional services departments that offer advice to small and large businesses including professional loans, managing inflows and handling client money.

In a statement the OFT said: “The OFT’s investigation is at an earlystage. The OFT will not be in a position to conclude whether the lawhas in fact been infringed until it has completed its investigation andassessed the available evidence.”

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