The Competition Commission has initiated legal proceedings against a company set up by the husband of Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng, accusing it of price-fixing, market-sharing and bid-rigging which could have affected air-conditioning projects worth some HK$2 billion.
The case involves ATAL Building Services Engineering, established by Cheng's husband Otto Poon, and Shun Hing Engineering Contracting Company, under Shun Hing Holdings.
Two senior engineers from ATAL’s holding company, Analogue Holdings, communicated frequently with a senior manager of Shun Hing between December 2015 and December 2019, the watchdog alleges.
It says they sought and agreed, through emails and texts, to “provide cover bids, shared information about their intentions to bid, and/or disclosed commercially sensitive information on their intended bidding price or other parameters of the bid”.
The commission says it has reasonable cause to believe the firms engaged in serious anti-competitive conduct, in contravention of the First Conduct Rule of the Competition Ordinance.
It’s asking the Competition Tribunal to, among other things, impose penalties on the companies and the engineers, make them pay for the cost of the proceedings, and order them to adopt effective compliance programmes.
The Chief Executive Officer of the commission, Rasul Butt, said: “With air-conditioning being a modern necessity, the cartel affected many members of the public residing and working in residential and commercial buildings”.
“The enforcement action today further demonstrates that disrupting hardcore cartels that affect people’s livelihood, especially when the companies involved are major players in the relevant market, will continue to be one of the commission’s top priorities,” he said.