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Bid rigging by 3 Singapore firms in swimming pool tenders for condos, hotels: CCCS
SINGAPORE'S competition watchdog has issued a proposed infringement decision against three companies for infringing Section 34 of the Competition Act by engaging in bid-rigging conduct.
This was in relation to tenders called for the provision of maintenance services for swimming pools, spas, fountains and other water features to privately-owned developments in Singapore – including condominiums and hotels.
The three firms are CU Water Services, Crystalene Product (S) and Crystal Clear Contractor, which provide maintenance and cleaning services for water features, the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) said on Wednesday.
In September 2017, CCCS began investigating the alleged bid-rigging of such tenders.
Its probe revealed that there were bilateral agreements and/or concerted practices between CU Water and Crystalene as well as between CU Water and Crystal Clear, to collude by bid rigging those tenders.
There was no competitive pressure on the trio to submit their best offers to customers, given the cover-bidding arrangements between the parties, CCCS found.
Cover bidding occurs when some bidders agree to submit bids that are intended to be unsuccessful, so that a designated company can win the contract.
In this case, one of the parties would request the other party to submit to the customer a higher quotation than its own, CCCS said. At times, the party who was intended to win the tender would specify a price for the other party to use in its higher quotation.
“As a result, customers were unable to obtain offers that can best meet their requirements and which provide the best value,” the commission said.
The tenders affected by the bid-rigging arrangements between CU Water and Crystalene were called from Oct 11, 2008 to May 29, 2017, while those affected by the arrangements between CU Water and Crystal Clear were called from Aug 20, 2011 to June 16, 2017.
A proposed infringement decision is a written notice issued to parties, setting out the facts on which CCCS makes its assessment and its reasons for arriving at the proposed decision.
The three companies now have the opportunity to make their individual representations regarding the infringements proposed against them.
After CCCS considers any representations received and the evidence obtained in its investigation, the competition watchdog will then make its final decision.