UPDATE 1-Austria widens investigation into price fixing in construction industry

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VIENNA, June 8 (Reuters) - Austria has widened an investigation into price-fixing in its construction sector after prosecutors said a probe last year had led to new evidence of suspected rigging.

The prosecutors’ office said on Friday that it was now investigating 220 companies or individuals on suspicion of price-fixing in the sector since 2006. Leading Austrian construction companies and a large number of medium-sized firms were suspected of repeated involvement in price rigging, it said.

There is concern that there may be “a long-standing and in the economy firmly established system of agreements restricting competition in procurement procedures mainly in civil engineering and roadway construction in Austria,” the prosecutors said in a statement.

Some of the 220 have been under investigation since last year and it was unclear how many additional companies or individuals had been drawn into the probe.

The prosecutors said their investigation, which is looking at contracts since 2006, had found evidence of illegal pricing agreements in more than 350 tender procedures.

Construction company Strabag and rival Porr have each said that five of their respective Austrian branches were recently searched in connection with the 2017 probe.

Both said they were fully cooperating with the authorities. (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Jason Neely and Susan Fenton)