A spokesman for the competition watchdog confirmed a formal investigation had been launched. He told AccountancyAge.com: ‘We have reasonable grounds to suspect Companies House of breaching the 1998 Competition Act and acting in an anti-competitive manner.’
The investigation is believed to centre around the sale of reports over the internet to the private sector. Companies House holds the annual accounts and reports of four million UK companies. Information on companies, including directors’ details, mortgage index and disqualified company directors can be purchased via an online service.
If the allegations are proved true, the plc could face a maximum fine of up to 10% of its UK turnover for a period of three years, although the OFT pointed out that no evidence of wrongdoing had yet been determined and would not comment on the details of the investigation.
Furthermore it said any fine could not be retrospective beyond a period of two years, as the legislation had only come into effect in March 2000.
A spokesperson for Companies House said it had submitted documents to the OFT last week and declined to comment on the investigation.
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