Two held over Narita bid-rigging

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Masahiko Kurono – , president of Narita International Airport Corp., and other executives bow at a news conference Monday following the arrest of two airport officials for alleged bid-rigging.

Arrested were Etsushi Kyakuno, 55, a former electrical-section chief of the New Tokyo International Airport Authority, and his predecessor, Sadao Ito, 57.

An investigative team from the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office questioned the two men Monday in connection with bid-rigging involving electrical machinery makers.

Kyakuno and Ito are suspected of involvement in systematic collusive bidding at the initiative of a government agency, sources said.

In the evening, Narita International Airport Corp. President Masahiko Kurono apologized at a news conference for “causing trouble by betraying (people’s) trust when (the firm) is exerting efforts to create an airport that can please customers upon privatization.”

Prosecutors suspect the airport authority, the predecessor of Narita International Airport Corp., fixed the winner of designated bidding among six companies on Nov. 7, 2003, for work on an electrical transformation facility at the airport.

Nissin Electric Co. outbid other companies,including Meidensha Corp., Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and Fuji Electric Systems Co., by offering 195 million yen, which was 97.8 percent of the maximum permissible contract price set by the airport operator.

Ito served as the authority’s section chief from June 1999 to June 2002, when he was promoted. He currently works as a director at Narita International Airport Corp., the sources said.

Kyakuno, who now serves as a senior official of the airport corporation, has admitted to investigators that bid-rigging took place and that he came up with an allocation sheet that indicated the planned winner for each project, they said.

One source said the former airport authority wanted to arrange for certain companies to do specific projects because they involved intricate engineering work, suggesting the allocation system probably took place for many years.

The prosecutors have searched the offices of the companies involved in the November 2003 bidding, and officials of some of the firms have admitted rigging bids, the sources said.

The prosecutors have obtained a document listing “prospective winning companies” in bids for electrical engineering projects to be held in the future, they said.