CHIBA (Kyodo) Chiba Mayor Keiichi Tsuruoka, who was arrested Wednesday for allegedly receiving a ¥1 million bribe from a construction company, is suspected of ordering city officials to favor the firm by allowing it to bid on a public works project, investigation sources said Thursday.

According to the sources, Chiba municipal officials told investigators they were asked by the mayor to favor the firm Azuma Kigyo, the sources said.

Nine other companies participated the bid, which Azuma Kigyo won with a contract worth ¥42.7 million in October 2005.

The investigators suspect the mayor may have helped the 10 companies rig the bid so Azuma Kigyo would be the winner.

The winning bid was 97 percent of the upper price limit secretly set by the city. In general, a winning bid so close to the secret upper limit is an indication of bid-rigging.

Tokyo Metropolitan Police questioned four city officials on a voluntary basis in early April.

According to the city, the bureau chief also served as chairman of a committee that screens construction companies and designates bidders for public work projects worth ¥50 million or less.

The bureau chief, whose name is being withheld, has already retired and now works at a city-affiliated organization.

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