A court ordered Japanese construction companies to pay a total of ?6.48 billion (US$55 million) in fines after being found guilty in a major bid-rigging scandal involving public bridge building contracts, a court official said yesterday.
The Tokyo High Court ordered 23 bridge builders to pay the fines in violation of the Antitrust Law, the court official said on condition of anonymity, citing protocol.
Prosecutors filed charges last year against 26 companies and several executives for allegedly colluding to divvy up 180 contracts worth a total of ?71 billion in fiscal 2003 and 2004. The court has yet to rule on three other companies.
The firms allegedly set up a system of predetermined prices and winners among dozens of companies, even before bidding began for steel bridge construction contracts offered by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.
Kyodo News agency said the fines handed down were the largest ever ordered in cases of Antitrust Law violations, surpassing the previous record of ?130 million.