7 property insurers raided over alleged price rigging

SEOUL– Prosecutors raided seven property insurance companies Tuesday on allegations that they colluded to rig prices in the bidding for government contracts seeking property insurance coverage for public rental houses, officials said.

The Seoul Central Prosecutors Office sent investigators to KB Insurance Co., Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance Co. and five others to seize evidence related to the suspicions, including account ledgers.

The other five are MG Non-life Insurance Co., Hanwha General Insurance Co., Heungkuk Fire & Marine Insurance Co., Korean Reinsurance Company and Meritz Fire & Marine Insurance Co.

The property insurers were accused of having colluded to escalate the offer prices in the competitive bidding for two property insurance orders by the Korea Land & Housing Corp., the state housing developer, including one in 2018 to cover public rental homes.

The firms allegedly colluded to have fake bidders join the competition and drop out, driving up the prices at which the contracts were awarded, in violation of the antitrust law, according to the officials.

The seven firms, together with a state-run insurance agent, were fined a combined 1.76 billion won (US$1.33 million) by the Fair Trade Commission in April in connection with the price rigging case.

The commission at that time also referred KB Insurance and the insurance agent to prosecutors for investigation, along with three of their employees.

Prosecutors are expected to summon officials from the seven insurance firms soon for questioning.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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