• Kyodo

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Osaka prosecutors raided the Osaka branch of construction firm Hazama Corp. and the Wakayama Prefectural Government on Wednesday searching for evidence they rigged the bidding process for a tunnel construction project.

The offices of Wakayama Gov. Yoshiki Kimura and Vice Gov. Masakazu Kosada were included in the raids.

A joint venture led by Hazama got the contract in November 2004 with a bid of 1.16 billion yen, which was about 99 percent of the targeted price.

The special investigations squad of the Osaka District Public Prosecutor’s Office also raided Hazama’s office in Osaka and several other offices in July as part of its probe into another bid-rigging case, on a sewage plant project in Hannan, Osaka Prefecture.

In those raids, sources said prosecutors found a memo indicating Hazama gave tens of millions of yen in cash to a golf course operator in Kawachinagano, Osaka Prefecture, in return for information on the tunnel project tender.

Hazama allegedly asked the golf course operator, believed to have influence over public works projects in Wakayama, to help win the contract for a tunnel project in what is now the city of Tanabe, according to the sources. The operator allegedly gave Hazama the information needed to beat the other bids.

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