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Three firms fined over S$32,000 for rigging Wildlife Reserves Singapore job bids

THE Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) on Thursday issued financial penalties against three firms for participating in anti-competitive agreements to rig the bids for the provision of building, construction and maintenance services to Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS).

The firms were found to have exchanged bid information and coordinated their bids for eight tenders and quotations called by WRS from July 1, 2015 to Oct 6, 2016, the statutory board said in a statement.

For violating the Competition Act, the firms - Geoscapes, Shin Yong Construction and Hong Power Engineering - were fined S$19,739, S$7,148 and S$5,211 respectively.

The competition watchdog issued its proposed infringement decision in January this year, which none of the three firms reponded or objected to, it said.

The statutory board first commenced investigations into allegations of bid rigging of civil and electrical works for WRS’s attractions following a complaint from the wildlife park operator, which detected the anti-competitive activity.

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WRS manages Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, River Safari and the Singapore Zoo.

As part of these investigations, CCCS conducted unannounced inspections at the three firms' places of business in October 2016.

Shortly after the inspections, all three applied for leniency under CCCS's leniency programme, which affords lenient treatment to businesses that come forward with information on their cartel activities.

Businesses eligible for lenient treatment can be granted total immunity or a reduction of up to either 100 per cent or 50 per cent in the level of financial penalties.

CCCS chief executive Sia Aik Kor said bid rigging distorts the competitive bidding process by eliminating pressure on suppliers to submit their best offers to a customer.

"As a result, the customer is prevented from getting the best value for their tenders," she added.

Ms Sia said companies should protect themselves by studying bid submissions carefully to spot suspicious bids. 

WRS procurement director Kelly Chew said the company had built preventive measures into its procurement policy, including centralising the handling of tenders and defaulting to an open call for tenders to encourage more vendors to participate.

Following CCCS's inspections, WRS barred the three companies from bidding for any of its projects.

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