Trio’s bid-rigging charges grow

Tokyo prosecutors again indicted three men Tuesday over new allegations of bid-rigging for additional public works projects in their past posts at the Defense Facilities Administration Agency, investigative sources said.

The prosecutors also served summary indictments seeking the imposition of fines over the alleged bid-rigging on representatives from eight contractors that won the bids in question and a former agency official who was hired by a midsize contractor after retirement.

The three men, indicted earlier for alleged bid-rigging including that involving engineering construction projects at U.S. military bases in Yamaguchi and Nagasaki prefectures, were prosecuted for construction projects at the Defense Agency’s Ichigaya complex in Tokyo, the sources said.

The suspects are Mamoru Ikezawa, 57, a former technical councilor at the facilities agency, Takayoshi Kawano, 57, Ikezawa’s successor in the post, and Takashige Matsuda, 53, a former facilities inspection officer in the agency’s general affairs department.

Ikezawa was released later in the day on 4 million yen bail.

According to the indictment by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office, the three conspired with representatives of major contractors in rigging bids for a number of construction projects.

The cases include three projects for relocating a runway at the U.S. Marine Corps Iwakuni Air Station in Yamaguchi Prefecture. It fetched successful tender prices totaling about 10.7 billion yen between January and March 2004.

Other cases are two pier construction projects at the U.S. naval base in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture. Bidding for them was conducted in March 2004 and amounted to a combined 4.3 billion yen.

Prosecutors believe the three suspects played leading roles in these cases, investigative sources said.

The bids were allegedly rigged so that joint ventures, including those led by Kajima Corp., Toa Corp. and Tekken Corp., would win the Iwakuni projects.

Advance agreements were also made to award the Sasebo contracts to two joint ventures — one led by Penta-Ocean Construction Co. and the other by Nissan Rinkai Construction Co.

Prosecutors suspect the bid-rigging has taken place for about 30 years, with agency officials giving favorable treatment to private firms in exchange for securing posts for bureaucrats after they retire, the sources said.

Ikezawa, Kawano and Matsuda have also been indicted for allegedly enabling a joint venture led by Sanki Engineering Co. to win a project to install air-conditioning systems at the Defense Agency complex in Tokyo’s Ichigaya district.

A Sanki Engineering representative in charge of the bid was fined 500,000 yen in this case.