COMPETE: Cartel Hunters, co-produced by the Competition Commission and RTHK, is Hong Kong’s first docudrama series adapted from real-life competition law cases handled by the Commission. With vivid characters and an upbeat plot, the series raises public attention to the Commission’s enforcement efforts and deepens understanding of the Competition Ordinance. In the five half-hour episodes, four investigators of the Commission take the audience through the investigation of several cases involving different anti-competitive conduct, including bid-rigging, market sharing, price fixing, exchange of sensitive information and facilitation of collusive agreement.
Born to a grassroots family, Johnny grows up in a public housing estate and works his way to success. Rational, humorous, and contemplative, he separates work and personal life and never socialises with colleagues outside of work. Enjoys gardening and Chinese music.
Ambitious and diligent, Ashley takes her work seriously and speaks with a bluntness that often rubs people the wrong way. She and Sean joined the Commission in the same year, and their different work approaches give rise to rivalry. Rumours has it that she has a boyfriend of seven years.
A free spirit who cares about looks and appearances, albeit a penny-pincher. Observant and mindful, Sean often spots the crux of the matter from tiny details. Single and a casual dater. Sees Johnny as his mentor.
A novice with high IQ but low EQ, Nicole is a quick-learner with rough edges and acts on intuition. Growing up spoiled by her family, she has little understanding of the difficulties faced by the grassroots.
Cast: LUK Chun-kwong, YU Heung-ying, LAM Chin-ting, WONG Ting-him, SHAM Yan-yee, LEONG Lok-in, NGO Ka-nin
Johnny decides to choose between Ashley or Sean for a secondment to Europe, which is a prelude to promotion. Since both of them are performing well, Johnny views them as his successor and plans to further encourage competition between the two.
This comes amid the investigation of a health food company and a health app startup for alleged price fixing, and the owners of both express their intention to admit liability and cooperate in the investigation. Sean wants to conclude the case after questioning Wong Yat-lung of the health food company. But Johnny smells something fishy as both companies are too ready to admit liability. He also thinks Sean is intentionally trying to lose to Ashley.
After questioning the owners of the two companies, Ashley suspects that they are hiding the truth. Nicole suggests going through the videos filmed by Wong’s wife, Avis B, who always does live streaming at the fitness centre as a fitness KOL. Eventually…
Ashley cracks the case and naturally wins the secondment to Europe. Johnny notices that Sean has a lot on his mind when congratulating Ashley, while Nicole wishes to see a happy ending for her two superiors.
Cast: LUK Chun-kwong, YU Heung-ying, LAM Chin-ting, WONG Ting-him, Bryant MAK, NG Ka-hei, LEE Sheung-ching
Carl and Ma are long-time friends who both started their career as chefs. Although their food factory partnership broke up, they remain on good terms and maintain good business relationships. Carl’s girlfriend Phoebe, however, is worried about Ma taking advantage of her “naïve” boyfriend.
Event organizer Simon, who is impressed by the quality food Carl and Ma provide, invites both of them to take part in a tender for catering services at a major school event he takes on. He also asks them to coordinate the bidding price and determine the winner among themselves, although this “exchange of commercially sensitive information” between competitors may have already contravened the Competition Ordinance.
Carl is furious when he discovers that Ma lied and hijacked the tender, and their relationship reaches a breaking point when Ma shoved and injured Phoebe. Under the “Leniency Policy”, the Commission will not commence proceedings against the first cartel member who reports the cartel conduct and meets all the requirements for receiving leniency. So who will be the whistle-blower in the end?
Meanwhile, Sean and Ashley have yet to make up after a resident threw up on Ashley during the previous operation. Nicole, Sean’s “informant”, comes to know that Ashley broke up with her boyfriend two years ago. While she thinks Sean can buff up and act more decisively, her help has messed things up. Johnny, on the other hand, advises Sean to keep his distance.
Cast: LUK Chun-kwong, YU Heung-ying, LAM Chin-ting, WONG Ting-him, Leung Yung-ting, Marx CHEUNG
Flashing back to more than 20 years ago, decoration contractors got in a big fight as they competed for business at a newly completed public housing estate. Lui stepped in at that time, and suggested allocating designated floors of the estate to each of the decorators to ensure everyone got their slice of the “pie”. The contractors were happy with the approach, and the practice continues until now.
While the Commission is preparing to commence proceedings against the contractors, a new complaint on similar practices at another estate comes up. Lui’s engineering company is also involved.
With the case filed in the Tribunal, the contractors meet up to discuss whether they should litigate in court, but cannot reach a consensus. Rachel has actually consulted her lawyer friend and understands that there is little chance of winning. But surprisingly she still opts for defending the case in court, which upsets her father Lui.
Refusing to admit liability, the contractors make unconvincing arguments on the grounds of economic efficiencies. Thanks to the evidence gathered by the investigation team, the Tribunal eventually finds the contractors liable for contravening the Competition Ordinance. The Housing Authority also introduces new measures to prevent anti-competitive conduct by contractors.
Cast: LUK Chun-kwong, YU Heung-ying, LAM Chin-ting, WONG Ting-him, LEUNG Yung-ting, Marx CHEUNG
The Housing Authority allows decoration contractors to set up counters at newly completed public housing estates for the convenience of tenants who want to decorate their new homes. However, some of the contractors allocate customers by dividing the floors of the estates among themselves and agreeing not to pursue customers that have been allocated to other contractors.
Upon receipt of the complaint, the Commission decides to take action, but the absence of permanent offices for the contractors makes evidence gathering difficult. Ashley leads the investigation team’s effort to look for clues by visiting the tenants door-to-door, while Johnny also takes part in the operation in person to mentor the rookie Nicole.
During the operation, Ashley and Sean come across a drunk man who suddenly throws up in the midst of the conversation. Sean, to Ashley’s dismay, instinctively steps aside to keep his expensive suit clean.
After putting together evidence from the tenants, Johnny decides to summon the contractors for interviews, but they appear to have coordinated their statements in advance. Decoration industry veteran Lui and his daughter Rachel are actually well aware of the Commission’s actions and have put together a plan to get around.
Cast: LUK Chun-kwong, YU Heung-ying, LAM Chin-ting, WONG Ting-him, TSUI Ho-cheong, CHEUNG Moon-yuen and SO Wai-chuen
Nicole, a rookie who just joined the Competition Commission as a Competition Affairs Officer (Investigations), finds herself caught in the middle of the rivalry between two Managers (Investigations), Ashley and Sean.
Nicole and Ashley get off on the wrong foot, but things change when they receive a complaint about suspected bid-rigging at a seminar organised by the Commission. By spotting suspicious details in the tender submissions, Nicole manages to change Ashley’s impression of her.
Ashley reports the findings to her supervisor Johnny (Head of Investigations of the Commission), pointing out that there is "reasonable cause to suspect" a contravention of the Competition Ordinance. Upon painstaking investigations of four IT companies, it was uncovered that the mastermind is someone unexpected…
Eventually, the companies are found to have contravened the First Conduct Rule of the Ordinance by engaging in bid-rigging, and are ordered to pay fines and the Commission’s legal costs.
Composed, arranged and performed by：Nowhere Boys
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