Authorities start sport retail probe

SPORT retailers JJB Sports and Sports Direct are at the centre of a double-pronged probe into allegations of anti-competitive behaviour that could see the companies and their directors landed with heavy fines and even jail time.<br /><br />Separate investigations are being conducted by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), which yesterday carried out a raid on both firms&rsquo; offices.<br /><br />The SFO&rsquo;s criminal inquiry centres on suspected offences under the Fraud Act and the Enterprise Act, which includes legislation on price-fixing. The matter was originally referred to the SFO by the OFT, which itself is carrying out an investigation into possible breaches of UK and European Commission competition law.<br /><br />JJB yesterday confirmed it blew the whistle on the activities on 30 January this year, just 10 days after it suspended ex-chief executive Chris Ronnie.<br /><br />The firm has negotiated immunity from the OFT in return for full co-operation, though it could still be charged under potential SFO findings.<br /><br />The allegations relate to the period between June 2007 and March 2009, falling under Ronnie&rsquo;s tenure.