Competition Commission has imposed a total penalty of more than Rs 3.5 crore on six firms and some of their executives for cartelisation with respect to tenders floated by Pune Municipal Corporation. Invoking the leniency provisions, the fair trade watchdog also significantly reduced the penalties on four firms and their executives.
The case against these firms was initiated on the basis of an information filed under Section 19(1)(a) of the Act by Nagrik Chetna Manch. During investigation, all six firms approached CCI as lesser penalty applicants.
Fortified Security Solutions, Ecoman Enviro Solutions Pvt Ltd, Lahs Green India Pvt Ltd, Sanjay Agencies, Mahalaxmi Steels and Raghunath Industry Pvt Ltd are the six firms that have been penalised, according to an official release.
These entities and their executives have been fined a total of little over Rs 3.57 crore for “bid rigging/ collusion in five tenders” floated by Pune Municipal Corporation during December 2014 to March 2015 period, it added. The tenders pertained to municipal organic and inorganic solid waste processing plants.
Under lesser penalty regulations of the Competition Act, penalties have been reduced in the case of four firms — Mahalakshmi, Lahs Green, Sanjay Agencies and Ecoman. As per the release, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) also found “meeting of mind and co-ordination between various individuals which included the proprietor/ partner/ director of the firms to rig the tenders by way of submitting proxy/ cover bids”.
During investigation, all the six firms had approached the Competition Commission of India (CCI) seeking lesser penalties. Citing evidence gathered by the Director General (DG) and co-operation as well as value addition provided in establishing the existence of cartel, the regulator granted Mahalaksmi and Lahs Green as well as their executives 50 per cent reduction in penalties on them, the release said.
Keeping in view the modus operandi of the cartel, the stage at which the lesser penalty application was filed, the evidences gathered by the DG independent of Lesser Penalty Application and co-operation extended in conjunction with the value addition provided in establishing the existence of cartel, CCI granted Mahalaksmi and Lahs Green and their individuals 50 percent reduction in penalty than otherwise leviable on them. Sanjay Agencies and Ecoman, along with their individuals, were granted 40 and 25 percent reduction in penalty respectively. Pursuant to reduction, penalty imposed on Mahalkshmi was INR 1.68 crore, on Lahs Green was INR 21 Lakh, on Sanjay Agencies was INR 90.64 Lakh and on Ecoman was INR 33.90 Lakhs.