• Kyodo News


Prosecutors were planning to arrest about six people Thursday in connection with bid-rigging allegations involving the semigovernmental Japan Green Resources Agency, sources said.

The suspects, including a 59-year-old senior official of the farm ministry affiliate, were to be arrested on the antitrust charge of limiting transactions. They also include employees of the agency’s four contractors, the sources said Wednesday.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office believes that bid-rigging led by the agency’s officials has been normal practice in consulting work, especially in orders it placed for forest road construction, they said.

The prosecutors were planning to search locations linked to the case as soon as a criminal complaint is filed on the charge leveled by the Fair Trade Commission, which has been investigating people and documents related to the case.

The four contractors hired former officials from both Japan Green Resources and the government’s Forestry Agency, and Japan Green Resources is suspected of giving them priority in awarding the orders.

Two of the firms — Shinko Kosaikai and Japan Forest Engineering Consultants — are public-interest corporations supervised by the Forestry Agency, while the other two — K.K. Forestech and Katahira & Engineers Inc. — are joint-stock companies.

The four have won nearly 70 percent of the orders tendered by Japan Green Resources over the past three years.

Senior Japan Green Resources officials in charge of forest services, including one to be arrested, designated the winners of its bids through division chiefs at its eight regional construction offices, the sources said.

The four contractors colluded with these “voices from heaven” by submitting the correct bid price, they said. The practice is believed to have gone on for at least a decade.

The agency decided the winners based on reports from its regional offices about their order plans and contract prices, and also taking into account contracts awarded to each bidder the previous fiscal year.

The people allegedly involved have admitted to the bid-rigging under questioning by the FTC, the sources said.

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