In a statement of objections issued today, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) alleges that Dollar East (International Travel & Money Transfer) Ltd, Hafiz Bros Travel & Money Transfer Limited, and LCC Trans-Sending Limited (including its parent company Small World Financial Services Group Limited) trading as Small World, fixed prices charged to customers in Glasgow for transferring money from the UK to Pakistan.
It is the FCA’s view that, for a period in 2017, the 3 firms coordinated on the exchange rate offered to consumers for converting UK Pounds into Pakistan Rupees in transferring money to Pakistan; and fixed the level of a flat rate transaction fee charged to consumers when making money transfers from the UK to Pakistan via Small World’s services.
As a result of this conduct, consumers in Glasgow may have been overcharged for sending money to Pakistan.
These are provisional findings and may not necessarily lead to further enforcement action. A statement of objections gives firms notice that the FCA thinks they have infringed competition law and the opportunity to respond by making written and oral representations.
The FCA will carefully consider any representations from the firms before deciding whether the law has been broken. The statement of objections will not be made public, however further details will be made public when a final decision is taken.
The FCA is determined to use its powers to ensure that local retail markets are competitive across the UK and has therefore prioritised this investigation.
The powers and processes (including publicity) that the FCA has and follows in relation to the Competition Act 1998 are separate and different from those it has and follows in relation to the Financial Services and Market Act 2000 (FSMA). Competition Act cases may also be brought by the Competition and Markets Authority.
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. Any business found to have infringed the prohibitions in the Competition Act 1998 can be fined up to 10% of its annual worldwide group turnover.
A statement of objections is a document that sets out why and how the FCA thinks that the relevant firms have infringed applicable competition law, in particular: the facts on which the FCA relies, the objections it raises, the action it proposes, and its reasons for its proposed action.
Following the issue of a statement of objections, parties have the opportunity to make written and oral representations on the matters set out in it. Any such representations will be considered by the FCA before any final decision is taken. The final decision is taken by a 3-member Competition Decision Committee group, which is separate from the case investigation team and is not involved in the decision to issue the statement of objections.
The statement of objections is addressed to the following parties, which the FCA provisionally considers were directly involved in the alleged infringement: Dollar East (International Travel & Money Transfer) Ltd; Hafiz Bros Travel & Money Transfer) Ltd; and LCC Trans-Sending Limited (including its parent company Small World Financial Services Group Limited), trading as Small World. The FCA provisionally considers that these parties were involved between 18 February 2017 and 31 May 2017.
The FCA provisionally considers that the alleged infringement relates to the provision of in-store services only. Any online services offered by the parties is not considered to have been subject to the alleged anti-competitive conduct.
Regulated firms should bring their own actual and possible significant contraventions of competition law to the FCA’s attention, as they are obliged to do under Principle 11 of the Principles for Businesses and rules in the FCA’s Supervision manual.
The FCA has an overarching strategic objective of ensuring the relevant markets function well. To support this, it has 3 operational objectives: to secure an appropriate degree of protection for consumers; to protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system; and to promote effective competition in the interests of consumers.