The Korea Herald


Builders fined for colluding to fix prices

By 정주원

Published : Sept. 28, 2014 - 13:50

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South Korea's antitrust watchdog said Sunday that it has fined three major local builders a combined 25 billion won ($23.9 million) for colluding to fix bidding prices in a public project to build tidal outlets.

   Samsung C&T, GS Engineering and Construction and Hyundai Engineering and Construction fixed their bidding prices for the project initiated in July 2009 by the state-run Korea Water Resources Corp., according to the Fair Trade Commission. The 221.7 billion won project is for building tidal outlets in the lower part of the Nakdong River that flows in the southern part of the country.

   Samsung C&T was ordered to pay 13.78 billion won in penalties, while GS E&C and Hyundai E&C were fined 3.45 billion won and 7.75 billion won, respectively, according to the FTC.

   Through the price rigging and collaboration from the other builders, Samsung C&T was chosen to lead the construction, the FTC said.

   Samsung C&T's bidding prices represented 94.99 percent of the estimated construction cost. The ratios for GS E&C and Hyundai E&C stood at 94.98 percent and 94.96 percent, all of which were slightly lower than 95 percent, a level rumored in the construction industry to be the ceiling that prompts an FTC investigation on price rigging.

   "The three builders secretly agreed to fix their bidding prices on worries that if they engage in competition, the prices could go down and eventually hurt their profitability," the FTC said in a press release.

   "They seem to have set the bidding prices as close as possible to the rumored ceiling in an apparent bid to avoid a possible investigation, it added. (Yonhap)