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Eye-watering fine over dodgy bid plot

The attempted tender rigging related to upgrades of the lights, air and power systems at the National Gallery of Australia in 2019.

The court earlier found at a Canberra cafe, Delta Building Automation’s director Timothy Davis offered to pay a competitor for agreeing to rig bids in the tender process. The competitor refused the offer.

Delta Building Automation has now been fined $1.5m and Mr Davis handed a $120,000 penalty, the Australian Competitor and Consumer Commission announced this week. The ACCC brought the civil proceedings to court.

Supplied Editorial Delta Building Automation director Timothy Dixon Davis. Source:\n Canberra Airport's Twitter account
Delta Building Automation director Timothy Dixon Davis. Source: Canberra Airport's Twitter account

“This case should be a strong reminder to all businesses that engaging in any form of cartel conduct, including attempts that do not ultimately succeed, can lead to severe consequences,” ACC commissioner Liza Carver said.

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“Attempting to bid-rig is a serious breach of our competition laws.

“This conduct in this case is particularly concerning, as it involved a tender for works being paid for with taxpayers’ money,” the commissioner said.

ALBANESE BUDGET ANNOUNCEMENT
The attempted bid rigging related to upgrades at National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. Picture: NewsWire / Martin Ollman

The Federal Court made orders that Delta and Mr Davis cannot communicate with competitors about tenders for building management systems in the Australian Capital Territory for three years.

Delta must also implement a Competition Law Compliance program, and pay the ACCC’s costs in the proceedings.

The ACCC can take civil cartel matters to the Federal Court, or refer serious and criminal conduct to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

QUESTION TIME REPS
The ACCC says the attempt to subvert a fair tender process was particularly concrening in thise instance, because the contract up for grabs involved public money. Picture: NewsWire / Gary Ramage

The ACCC also manages an immunity program that enables past or present cartel members to confess their actions and co-operate with investigations in exchange for immunity from civil cartel proceedings brought by the ACCC and criminal cartel charges laid by the public prosecutor.

Australian Securities Investments Commission information shows the Canberra-based entity which is now Delta Building Automation was registered in 1982. Mr Dixon has been director since 2000.