Broadband bid-riggers slapped with fines and kept on the radar

2013-12-22 14:01

Two technology suppliers have admitted to rigging a multimillion-rand tender for state broadband infrastructure company Broadband Infraco in 2010 and have agreed to pay fines of R100?000 each as part of a settlement confirmed by the competition tribunal this week.

But the tribunal has recommended that both companies be further investigated for other cases of bid-rigging.

Tribunal chairperson Norman Manoim also suggested that the competition commission investigate whether the two companies were in fact offering a cover price to a third company that won the tender.

Lambda Test Equipment and Aztec ­Components appeared before the tribunal earlier this month, but the tribunal refused to approve the settlement agreements ­between the two companies and the commission at the time, requesting additional ­information before making a ruling.

The tender was for the supply of equipment that is used to test links in a telecoms network and was originally valued at R12?million, before it was withdrawn and readvertised for R6.2?million.

Manoim said it was strange that both the bids for the tenders were the same, as the two had shared pricing information and one would expect one to supply a lower bid in an attempt to win the tender. There ­appeared to be “more to this than meets the eye”, according to Manoim.

Representing the commission at the hearing in early December, Nogoake Maropene said there was no evidence that the two companies had colluded with other companies that bid, but admitted that the commission had not investigated this possibility.

The investigation began in July 2011 after the commission received a complaint from Broadband Infraco.

The settlement agreement states a representative of each company met at the Lambda offices in August 2010 to rig the bid.

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