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CCI closes alleged bid rigging case; finds no evidence of competition norms violations

·2-min read

New Delhi, Feb 15 (PTI) Competition Commission has closed a case of alleged bid rigging after a detailed investigation found no evidence to suggest manipulation in the bidding process by three firms for three different tenders.

The matter pertained to three separate tenders that were issued by the Department of Printing under the Ministry of Urban Development. One tender was issued in 2014 and two other tenders in 2015.

There were complaints that the three firms -- Chandra Prabhu Offset Printing Works Pvt Ltd, Saraswati Offset Printers Pvt Ltd and United India Tradex Pvt Ltd -- had conspired to fix rates in bids submitted for the tenders.

Competition Commission of India (CCI) had directed its probe arm -- Director General (DG) -- for a detailed investigation, which revealed close linkages among the three firms (opposite parties).

'The evidence gathered by investigation showed that there are business dealings, funds transactions, loan exchanges, sharing of work orders and personal acquaintances among the opposite parties. However, the investigation could not unearth any cogent evidence that could establish contravention of the provisions of Section 3(3) of the (Competition) Act,' the regulator said citing the investigation report.

Section 3 pertains to anti-competitive agreements.

According to CCI's 12-page order passed on Friday, the Commission notes that the inter-se dealings between the opposite parties are explained to be on account of their historic business linkages and such dealings thus appear to be in usual course of business.

'... there is nothing on record as per investigation to suggest that the opposite parties joined hands to manipulate the process of bidding in respect of the aforementioned three tenders,' the watchdog said, adding that no case of contravention of the provisions of Section 3(3) is made out in the facts and circumstances of the case. PTI AST RAM