Arrested ex-exec denies maglev train bid-rigging allegations

Arrested ex-exec denies maglev train bid-rigging allegations

A former official of a major Japanese contractor under arrest for his alleged involvement in rigging bids for construction work on the Tokyo-Osaka maglev train has denied the allegations.

Takashi Okawa, 67-year-old former managing director of Taisei Corp, told prosecutors after his arrest on Friday that he was “not in the environment to rig bids with other major construction companies” because the sales division he had belonged to was not able to estimate the cost of construction work on its own, sources close to the matter said.

Okawa, who was involved in the maglev train project at Taisei for more than a decade, admitted that he had gathered with officials of other three major construction companies, Kajima Corp, Obayashi Corp and Shimizu Corp, and exchanged information about the project.

But he insisted that he was not in a position to negotiate with other contractors to fix bidding prices, as accurate calculations by specialists within the company would have been needed to estimate the cost of construction work, according to the sources.

Taisei also rebuffed the claim by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office on Friday, issuing a statement denouncing the arrest of Okawa as “totally unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, the Tokyo prosecutors believe Okawa was able to rig bids with three other contractors, having engaged in tasks related to the project for more than 10 years as an influential senior officer at Taisei.

The prosecutors also arrested Kajima’s division manager Ichiro Osawa, 60, on Friday, claiming that both Okawa and Osawa conspired to determine which company would win orders ahead of the tenders issued by Central Japan Railway Co in breach of antitrust regulations.

The Japanese government provided 3 trillion yen ($28 billion) for the 9 trillion yen project to connect Tokyo and Osaka, about 500 kilometers west of the capital, in around one hour. Operations between Tokyo and Nagoya in central Japan are scheduled to begin in 2027.

© KYODO

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