SINGAPORE: Three companies were found to have rigged their bids for the provision of building, construction and maintenance services to Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), said the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) on Tuesday (Jan 21).
Shin Yong Construction, Geoscapes and Hong Power Engineering were issued a proposed infringement decision after they "were found to have participated in anti-competitive agreements", said CCCS in a media release.
The bids were submitted to WRS, which manages the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, Jurong Bird Park, and River Safari, in response to its calls for quotations and tenders.
CCCS in April 2016 acted upon a complaint from WRS and began its investigation into allegations of bid rigging of civil and electrical works for WRS' attractions.
This investigation revealed that the three firms had exchanged bid information and coordinated their bids to create a false impression that independent competitive bids were submitted during the tender processes, the release stated.
These occurred from at least Jul 1, 2015 to Oct 6, 2016.
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A proposed infringement decision (PID) is a written notice setting out the facts on which CCCS makes its assessment and its reasons for arriving at the proposed decision. It is issued to the parties to help them make representations and provide any other information in support of their representations for CCCS' consideration.
Businesses can make any representations to CCCS within five weeks from receiving the PID, including those applying for leniency, the competition watchdog said.
The leniency programme affords lenient treatment to businesses that are part of a cartel agreement or trade association that participates in or facilitates cartels, when they come forward with information on their cartel activities.
Such businesses may be granted total immunity or a reduction of up to either 100 per cent or 50 per cent in the level of financial penalties, depending on whether CCCS has already begun and investigation and the timing of the leniency application.
"Due to the secret nature of cartels, businesses participating or which have participated in them are given an incentive to come forward and inform CCCS of the cartel's activities. The policy of granting lenient treatment to these businesses that cooperate with CCCS outweighs the policy objectives of imposing financial penalties on such cartel participants," said CCCS.
Responding to CNA's queries, both WRS and CCCS have declined to provide further details on the case.
"As CCCS' proposed infringement decision is pending, it is not appropriate for WRS to provide further comments at this time," said WRS.
"CCCS will provide more details when we have made the final decision, after consideration of the representations and all available information and evidence," said the competition watchdog.