Travel agency and hotel face HK$5.77m fine over travel services price-fixing case

A hotel company and a travel agency were ordered to pay HK$5.77 million in fines over a travel services price-fixing case, while a former chairman of the Travel Industry Council ( TIC) involved was banned from being a director of any company for three years.

The investigation was originally launched by the Competition Commission as hotel company Tak How Investment Ltd – trading as Intercontinental Grand Stanford HK – struck a deal with HK’s Gray Line Tours agency Ltd, whose director was the former chairman of TIC, Wu siu-jeeng.

Both parties have admitted liability for their breach of the competition ordinance, as the two rival travel service providers fixed the prices of tourist attractions and transport tickets sold at various hotels between May 2016 and May 2017.

They then, alongside the commission, filed a joint application with the Competition Tribunal to dispose of the consent procedure.

The court on Thursday ordered Gray Line and Tak How to pay monetary penalties of HK$4.17 million and HK$1.6 million, respectively, for the investigation and litigation costs of the commission being covered.

Their sentences were reduced by 25 and 20 percent, respectively, for their admissions of wrongful conduct and their cooperation during the investigation.

Meanwhile, the court ordered “Wu to be disqualified from acting as a director in any company for three years,” according to a statement.

“Proceedings are underway for two companies, namely Harbor Plaza 8 Degrees Limited and Harbor Plaza Hotel Management Ltd; and Prudential Hotel (BVI) Ltd,” he continued.

The commission welcomed the court orders, which represent a significant achievement in the enforcement of the order.

The commission added that this is the first case where the commission has resolved an enforcement action by consent based on its cooperation policy.

Also read: Travel agency and hotel to be fined HK$5 million for price fixing (January 20)

Willie R. Golden