CMA faces ‘big challenges’

Bloomberg reports that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is faced with fresh criticism for handing out too few fines compared with its European counterparts.

Already under fire for being too lenient on banks, the National Audit Office (NAO) claims the CMA faces ‘big challenges’ to increase the number of successful enforcement cases it brings. According to the NAO, the UK issued £65 million of enforcement fines between 2012 and 2014, compared with almost £1.4 billion imposed German authorities.

There are ‘still too few successful enforcement cases, and business awareness of competition law could be improved,’ said Amyas Morse, head of the NAO. ‘The regime has further to go to ensure that value for money is achieved.’

The criticism comes a week after the CMA decided to extend its investigation into the retail banking market following comments from lawmakers. At a public hearing in November, Alasdair Smith, chairman of the banking inquiry, faced accusations of allowing the lenders ‘to pull the wool over their eyes’ after the provisional findings stopped short of advocating a break-up of the banks.