TOKYO: Authorities launched raids Thursday aimed at Japan's main international airport and several electronics companies over suspected bid-rigging in electrical installation projects at the airport, media reports and company officials said.
Tokyo prosecutors suspect the Narita International Airport Corp. and six electronics companies rigged bids for the projects in 2003 at an airport cargo building, the Yomiuri newspaper said.
The case is the latest in a series of bid-rigging scandals to surface in recent months. Japan has long been criticized for the widespread practice in public works projects, which virtually shut out foreign competitors.
Airport officials allegedly leaked planned project costs to the companies - Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Toshiba Corp., Hitachi Ltd., Nissin Electric Co., Meidensha Corp. and Fuji Electric Systems Co. Ltd. - the Yomiuri said.
The suspected bid-rigging involved a project worth nearly 200 million yen (US$1.68 million; euro1.44 million) in November 2003, before the airport's privatization in 2004, the paper said.
Kyodo News agency said investigators from the Tokyo District Prosecutors' Office began raiding the companies Thursday morning.A Mitsubishi Electric spokeswoman said investigators arrived at the company's headquarters Thursday morning to search for the evidence.
She spoke on condition of anonymity in line with company policy.
"It is truly regrettable that we are being investigated by the prosecutors' office,'' the company said in a statement.
"We take it seriously and will fully cooperate in the investigation.''
Airport officials, however, said Thursday morning that investigators had not arrived.
The prosecutors' office refused to comment on the reports.
Kyoto News agency reported that prosecutors are also investigating the six companies over alleged bid-rigging in separate government projects ordered by the Defence Agency.
Last week, police arrested 11 officials from several medium-sized contractors over alleged bid-rigging for seawall works ordered by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. - AP
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