Over 3,000 firms under probe

KUALA LUMPUR: More than 3,000 companies are being investigated by the Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC) for allegedly rigging tenders worth a total of about RM5.8bil.

The country’s competition regulator is clamping down on the unlawful practice, focusing on around 400 companies in particular those that are involved in both public and private projects in many states.

“The companies are related to many types of products and services including agricultural, services, construction, technology and infrastructure, ” said MyCC chief executive officer Iskandar Ismail (pic).

He said the complainants consisted of government agencies, members of the public and anonymous parties.

“This is part of our ongoing fight against bid-rigging cartels and we are working closely with other agencies such as the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Finance Ministry, Internal Revenue Board, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, and even commercial banks, ” he said in an interview.

On March 24, The Star reported that since 2014, MyCC has slapped various companies with over RM160mil in penalties, including against eight information technology companies allegedly involved in a tender exercise.

MyCC has the power to investigate and punish bid-rigging activities by cartels under Section 4 of the Competition Act 2010.

Earlier this month, the MACC announced that it had crippled a “project cartel” believed to have monopolised a total of 354 tenders involving projects from several ministries and government agencies worth RM3.8bil since 2014.

Around 150 companies were used in rotation to win tenders or quotations issued by ministries and government agencies.

The graft-busting agency also arrested seven suspects, including a Datuk.

MACC said its investigations found that almost all the companies had used false academic qualifications, professional certificates and financial statements to convince tender boards of the companies’ ability to implement the projects.

“MyCC decided to focus on public procurement from its establishment. Leakages are well known, ” said Iskandar.

“A lot of research shows that governments all over the world (including Malaysia) lose at least 25% of their money due to bid-rigging, and many projects are not completed or result in low-quality products or services.

“It (bid-rigging) even reduces the number of genuine bidders in the market as these players feel that the cartel has created barriers against them winning tenders.”

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