A Hamilton real estate agency has been fined more than $1 million for its part in a price fixing scandal.
The High Court has imposed a penalty of $1.05 million on Online Realty Ltd (trading under the Ray White banner) for its part in a national anti-competitive price fixing case brought by the Commerce Commission.
Online Realty Ltd was one of 13 national and regional real estate agencies the Commission brought charges against alleging breaches of the Commerce Act.
Online Realty admitted it agreed with other defendants in the case to pass on the cost of listing properties on Trade Me Property to vendors, when Trade Me changed its pricing structure.
Online also admitted unlawful price fixing by agreeing with other agencies to remove listings from Trade Me Property.
In her judgement released yesterday, Justice Patricia Courtney said while Online Realty was not a ringleader in the case, the conduct had brought a significant and lasting change to the market, with the majority of Hamilton real estate agents continuing to pass on the cost of advertising on Trade Me to their vendors.
So far almost $19 million in penalties have been imposed in the case, including $9.8 million in collective penalties imposed on the head offices of Barfoot & Thompson, Harcourts, LJ Hooker and Ray White, and a $2.2 million penalty imposed on the head office of Bayleys.
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