Bid-rigging firm running out of time

The Competition Commission is hoping Construction ID will approach them to reach a settlement.

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - One of three construction firms, who did not participate in a fast-track settlement over bid-rigging in the sector, has until the end of Tuesday to make its case.

This was revealed by the Competition Commission of South Africa.

On Monday, the consumer watchdog fined 15 companies a collective amount of almost R1,5 billion for price-fixing and collusion dating back to 2006.

Deputy commissioner Trudi Makhaya said they are hopeful Construction ID will approach them to reach a settlement.

"Construction ID has until today to get back to the Competition Commission. As for the two other firms that have not settled with the commission, we're still in some discussions."

The fines have been described as a small percentage of the extent of bid-rigging, which is estimated to be worth nearly R50 billion.

It follows an investigation led by Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel to rid the industry of corruption.

Makhaya said the next step would involve public hearings, where settlements would be scrutinised.

The deputy commissioner added the body only dealt with companies and not individuals.

"We don't impose criminal sanctions. Other agencies can deal with the individuals where there is corruption, fraud, racketeering etc."

Billions were lost through major projects such as the building of stadiums for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, the upgrade of airports, highway improvement projects, and the building of hospitals, dams and bridges.