More rigged tender cases uncovered in Uruma City

Investigators have discovered several more suspected cases of rigged bidding in the scandal involving Uruma City Board of Education construction projects that broke out with the Feb. 11 arrest of a 38-year-old employee of the board and an executive of a construction company.

According to information released by investigators on Feb. 13th, the 38-year-old Uruma City Board of Education employee, Katsuya Shiohira, has told investigators that in addition to the bid for the reconstruction work of a preschool that he was initially arrested for, he provided information on bidding prices to 54-year-old Okishin Kensetsu Construction Company executive Akira Taba in other construction projects he had been in charge of.

People familiar with the investigation say Okinawa Prefectural Police investigators obtained evidence through telephone records showing that the two suspects very often were in touch with each other before the bidding deadline in several cases.

The prefectural police have investigated the Uruma City Board of Education related construction projects that took place between fiscal 2012 and the end of July of fiscal 2014. Shiohira was in charge of 16 tenders during the term, and Taba has told investigators that he obtained the minimum limit of prices from Shiohira in all 16 cases.  In nine cases out of 16, the tenders of several construction companies that are believed to have shared the bidding price information with Okishin Kensetsu had been accepted. Taba is suspected of having been involved in illegal tenders sharing the price information in advance with those construction companies that are all located in Uruma City.