Recruitment giant Hays is at the centre of an investigation into a price-fixing cartel in the construction sector, it emerged today.
Investigators from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) have raided Hays and a number of other businesses in England accused of breaching competition laws.
The allegations include "price-fixing and a collective boycott of a competitor", the OFT said.
US firm CDI said its UK arm, AndersElite, was also being investigated and was likely to receive a fine. The other firms have not been named.
"No assumption should be made at this stage that there has been an infringement of competition law," an OFT statement said. "The OFT will not be in a position to decide if the law has been breached until all the facts are available."
Speaking to Reuters, Hays finance director Paul Venables said: "Clearly, the OFT is at early stages so it is hard to speculate where this will end up, but it is looking at whether a number of recruitment companies have had any discussions with each other."
"There is no evidence and we are confident we would have a robust defence and any impact will be 'de minimis'," he added.
Any business found to be a member of a cartel can be fined up to 10% of its worldwide turnover.