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Spies aim to thwart Olympic construction corruption

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The team behind the London 2012 Olympics is to use undercover surveillance to ensure architectural and building consortia do not cheat when bidding for lucrative construction contracts.

Games officials are expected to ask the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to make sure the work, which is worth £3 billion, is not hogged by cartels, and will pay undercover agents to carry out covert investigations.

The move follows a recent OFT corruption probe which found building companies were paying bungs of £50,000 to each other to deliberately lose contracts. The inquiry also raised concerns about the legality of another 1,000 deals, worth half a billion pounds.

Now Simon Williams, the OFT's director of cartel investigations, has appealed for potential whistleblowers such as secretaries and other construction staff to volunteer to become undercover agents.

These volunteers would be protected and could be paid under new OFT powers allowing the government agency to go undercover for the country's 'economic well-being'.

It is reported that the organisation is already using some informants, and Williams said he wanted more to come forward.

by Richard Waite

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