FCA fines three money transfer firms for breaking competition law

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined three money transfer firms £150,000 collectively after they admitted to fixing prices charged to consumers in Glasgow.

Trading under the name Small World, Dollar East Limited, Hafiz Bros Travel & Money Transfer Limited and LCC Trans-Sending Limited (including its parent company, Small World Financial Services Group Limited), have been fined a combined total of more than £150,000 for breaching competition law.

The FCA found that between February and May 2017, the firms co-ordinated on certain exchanges rates offered to customers in Glasgow for converting UK pounds into Pakistani rupees, when transferring money to Pakistan.

The Competition Act 1998 prohibits agreements, practices and conduct that may damage competition in the UK. The Chapter I prohibition covers anti-competitive agreements and concerted practices between businesses which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the UK. 

They were also found that have fixed the transaction fee charged to customers when making certain money transfers from the UK to Pakistan via Small World’s services.

The price fixing affected transfers made by customers at the Dollar East and Small World branches in Glasgow.

The FCA found that Hafiz Bros, while not operating a branch serving customers in Glasgow, facilitated this conduct.

All three firms have admitted to the FCA that they broke competition law and have received settlement discounts to reflect resource savings to the regulator in bringing the investigation to an earlier conclusion.

Executive director of consumers and competitions at the FCA, Sheldon Mills, said: "Money transfer businesses are an important service relied upon by many communities up and down the country.

"We saw evidence of these businesses operating as a cartel, working together to fix their prices and exchange rates on money transfers.

"This behaviour can lead to customers being ripped off, and it erodes public trust. We take this extremely seriously and will use our competition powers to protect consumers across the UK."

As a result of the investigation, the FCA has written to other money transfer firms in Glasgow to remind them of their obligations under competition law.

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