SINGAPORE – Four hotels that colluded by sharing with each other the non-public room rates offered to companies have been fined more than $ 1.5 million in total for violating the Competition Act.
Singapore's competition watchdog, the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS), issued a violation decision against the owners and operators of the four hotels in Wednesday (Jan. 30).
The four hotels are: Capri by Fraser Changi City Singapore, Village Hotel Changi, Village Hotel Katong and Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Hotel.
These hotels are between five and 15 minutes drive from Changi Airport.
Capri's former owner Ascendas Frasers and operator Frasers Hospitality Pte Ltd (FHPL) were slapped with the largest penalty of $ 793,925, with Frasers Hospitality Trustee and FHPL's hotel owner Founder's further charge of $ 216,526.
The Village Hotels, which are managed by Far East Hospitality Management, were fined $ 286,610, while Crowne Plaza received a fine of $ 225,293.
The information shared across the four hotels included the percentage discount that corporate customers asked for during confidential negotiations, and the responses of the hotel's sales representatives.
The competition commission provided extracts of four WhatsApp conversations between sales representatives at its media briefing, which it had obtained during its investigation that culminated in a raid on June 30, 2015.
Sales representatives of Capri and the two Village Hotels exchanged information between July 3, 2014, and June 30, 2015.
The same Capri sales representative also exchanged information with a Crowne Plaza counterpart between Jan 14, 2014, and June 30, 2015.
The competition commission said the two Village Hotels and Crowne Plaza received lighter penalties after applying for leniency treatment.
Under the CCCS 'leniency program, businesses that come up with information on their cartel services are given reductions on financial penalties of up to 100 percent.
First applicants who come forward before the competition commission commences investigations may be given a total immunity.
Capri did not apply for leniency, CCCS added.
"The exchange of non-public commercially sensitive information between competitors is harmful to competition and customers on the market, as it reduces competitive pressure faced by competitors in determining their commercial decisions, including the price they will offer to customers", рече конкурентската комисија chief executive Toh Han Li.
"If a business receives such information from its competitor, it should immediately and clearly distance itself from such conduct and report it to the CCCS."
Mr Toh added that this was the second such case that CCCS handled where competitors shared commercially sensitive information, which is distinct from cases involving price rigging behaviour.
In another case, two ferry operators serving Singapore-Batam route were in July 2012 fined $ 172,906 and $ 113,860 respectively for violating the Competition Act.