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BUSINESSMAN GUILTY OF PRICE FIXING; Car dealer first to be convicted under new laws.

Byline: By NIALL O'CONNOR

A CAR dealer became the first person in the state to be convicted of price fixing under new competition laws yesterday.

The Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork heard that businessman Dennis Manning became involved in the cartel to "keep heads above water".

Manning, 61, pleaded guilty to assisting in the operation of a price fixing cartel by Ford Dealers in Ireland.

The businessman, from Alendale Avenue, Melbourne Estate, Bishopstown in Cork city, admitted committing the crime between June 2002 and June 2003.

The charge read: "He did aid and abet the members of the Irish Ford Dealers Association, to implement an agreement which had as its object the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition in the trade of motor vehicles in the state".

Manning is the first person to be prosecuted following a two-and-a-half-year investigation by the Competition Authority into the operation of the motor trade by car dealers.

Justice Liam McKechnie ordered Manning to appear again before the court next Friday for sentencing.

The maximum penalties are five years in jail, or a fine of EUR4million, or 10 per cent of the annual turnover of a business found to be involved in price fixing.

Those convicted can also be banned from being the director of a company for five years.

news@irishmirror.ie

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SCAM: Denis Manning leaving court yesterday Picture: BERNIE KEATING/PROVISION
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 31, 2007
Words:231
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