CCI issues cease and desist order against firms found guilty of bid rigging, cartelization

New Delhi, Oct 12 (Bureau) The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has issued cease and desist order against 8 firms found guilty of bid rigging and cartelization in tender floated by Eastern Railway, an official statement said on Tuesday. The case was initiated on the basis of a reference filed on behalf of the Eastern Railway. CCI found the firms to have indulged in cartelization in the supply of axle bearings to Eastern Railway by means of directly or indirectly determining prices, allocating tenders, coordinating bid prices and manipulating the bidding process. The evidence in the matter included e-mails, call detail records and the statements of the representatives of the firms, the statement said.

The e-mails exchanged showed that the firms allegedly discussed quantity allocation with respect to the tenders of Indian Railways for the procurement of Axle Bearings amongst themselves. “The vendors were also found to have discussed the compensation mechanism in the event that some of them did not win the agreed quantities,” the statement said. Of the eight entities, two were lesser penalty applicants before the CCI. ” Under Section 46 of the Act, a cartel member may approach the Commission by way of filing an application seeking lesser penalty, in return for providing full, true and vital disclosures in respect of the alleged cartel to the Commission.

In this backdrop, CCI found eight firms guilty of bid rigging and cartelization in tender floated by Eastern Railway during the years 2015 to 2019,” the statement. However, CCI refrained from imposing any monetary penalty considering the firms were MSMEs with limited staff and turnover, the cooperative and non-adversarial approach adopted by firms in acknowledging their involvement as well as the economic stress wrought upon the MSME sector in the wake of COVID-19, the statement added.