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FTC to fine Kepco unit, 60 others for bid-rigging

JIJI

The Fair Trade Commission has notified some 60 firms, including a subsidiary of Kansai Electric Power Co., that they will be fined for rigging bids, sources said Thursday.

The FTC found that about 80 companies violated the anti-monopoly law by rigging the bids for Kansai Electric projects to install overhead power cables and underground transmission lines, the sources said.

The anti-monopoly watchdog plans to fine the 60 worst offenders a total of more than ¥2 billion and slap them with cease-and-desist orders, according to the sources.

The companies that received the FTC notice include Kinden Corp., the Kepco subsidiary, as well as another unit, Kanden Engineering Corp., and Sumitomo Densetsu Co.

Beginning around 2009, the companies arranged among themselves which would win tenders for Kepco projects, the sources said.

Before placing orders, Kansai Electric chooses companies from among registered businesses that have undergone screenings on the basis of financial status and technological competence.

After negotiations, the utility concludes contracts with those that put forward the lowest estimates.

In a related development, the FTC notified some 40 companies, including Kandenko Co., in November of its decision to fine them for rigging bids for Tokyo Electric Power Co. power cable installation projects.

Representatives of Kinden, Kanden Engineering and Sumitomo Densetsu said the companies take the FTC’s action seriously.