" Polish prosecutors have charged executives who worked for nine construction companies, including several multinationals, of illegal price fixing to win European-funded road-building contracts, court documents seen by Reuters show. (…)
The firms whose current or former executives have been charged include some of Europe's biggest builders or their subsidiaries:
Mota Engil , and units of 's
Ferrovial, and France's Bouygues Construction and Vinci. Spain
When contacted by Reuters, Strabag and Mota Engil denied they were involved in price-fixing. Bouygues, Vinci and the Ferrovial unit declined to comment on whether they were involved. Several of the firms said the executives concerned were no longer with the company. (….)
Prosecutors say they recorded phone conversations in which, they said, executives passed on sensitive bid information to executives from firms they should have been competing with to win road-building contracts. (…)
In one wiretap cited in the documents, the man who at the time was a Strabag executive tells an executive from Polish construction firm Mostostal-Warszawa in June 2009: "At this Hilton, there will be three rooms ... This room that I reserved for you at the Hilton, there are two rooms. You will have room number 698."
The room number, prosecutors say, was code for the lowest bid Mostostal Warszawa should lodge. The Strabag executive is quoted as saying: "You know I can't talk openly because you know those sons of bitches are listening."
In the tender, Mostostal Warszawa bid 699 million euros, another group led by PBDM bid 703 million euros. The contract was awarded to a consortium including Strabag and Mota Engil, which bid lower than the others at 675 million euros.
Prosecutors allege that, under the price-fixers' plan, the companies that deliberately lost that contract were to have been allowed to win others. In the event, this did not happen because members of the consortia not taking part in the scheme did not play along.
A spokeswoman for Strabag said its manager who had been charged by Polish prosecutors had left the company earlier this month. Strabag "wasn't involved in any price-fixing or unlawful activity in relation to the S8 contract", and had strict rules on how contracts are implemented, she said.
The Strabag spokeswoman said the company had carried out an internal investigation, now completed, that did not reveal any violations.
A spokeswoman for Mota Engil Central Europe said neither the company nor any of its executives was involved in any way in price-fixing activities in
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