FTC penalizes institutes over rigged survey bids

by Reiji Yoshida

The Fair Trade Commission said Monday it has ordered two government-linked research institutes to pay penalty surcharges totaling 129.8 million yen in connection with their roles in rigging bids for market price surveys on construction materials between 1999 and 2002.

The two entities are the Economic Research Association and the Construction Research Institute, both of which are public-interest corporations operating under the jurisdiction of the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry.

The two are effectively the only entities that now conduct price surveys of construction materials. The results are used by the national and local governments as key gauges in determining the cost of building roads, bridges and other public facilities. Accordingly, they influence the size of public works budgets.

According to the commission, the two institutes rigged bids for market price survey projects for the Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa and Yamanashi prefectural governments, as well as for other government-linked bodies in the Kanto region, between 1999 April and June 2002 at the very least.

The two entities rigged bids for a total of 213 price survey projects, which totaled 2.16 billion yen in value, deciding the winners and bid prices in advance, the commission said.

The two corporations admitted to the charges after being raided by the commission in June 2002.

But spokesmen for the two institutes said Monday they have not decided whether to accept the penalties or appeal the decision.