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University of Tokyo Hospital, a top-grade medical institution under the country’s most prestigious university, became the scene of a police search Wednesday following the arrest of four people, including a hospital official, in connection with bid-rigging over a maintenance project.

Kazusuke Matsumoto, 30, of the administrative division, was arrested Tuesday along with three other people, the Metropolitan Police Department said, adding the four have admitted involvement in the bid-rigging.

Police identified the three others as Atsuto Matsuda, 27, of Nippon Kanzai Co., Koji Ishikawa, 38, of SNK Service Co., and Kimio Tachihara, 59, formerly of SNK.

Police searched several offices at the hospital in Bunkyo Ward and seized documents.

They believe Matsumoto, in charge of cost evaluations, became acquainted with Ishikawa when the latter was stationed at the hospital for maintenance work, and are questioning him on the background of the bidding process.

Matsumoto is suspected of leaking information to enable bidding companies to calculate a successful tender when bids were made March 22, 2004, for air conditioning maintenance.

In return, the three wined and dined Matsumoto, police said.

Police have searched the Tokyo headquarters of Nippon Kanzai, the SNK office in Chuo Ward and other locations to search the evidence that Matsumoto was entertained by them.

Six companies participated in the bidding, excluding disqualified ones, and Nippon Kanzai won the contract for 175 million yen.

Hiroshi Kushiyama, head of the hospital’s administrative division, said the hospital conducts public bidding for maintenance work once a year, and Nippon Kanzai won consecutively from fiscal 2004 through this year.

Police believe Nippon Kanzai has been subcontracting all the work to SNK.

The hospital, one of the top medical institutions in Japan, was established in 1958 originally as a clinic for smallpox vaccinations.

In fiscal 2005, the 1,210-bed hospital treated 764,000 outpatients and 18,500 inpatients.

It was incorporated in April 2000 when all national and public universities were incorporated to enhance autonomy and efficiency.

In November 1992, nine people, including an assistant professor with the medical school, were arrested on a bribery charge regarding pacemakers.

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