Private firms that enjoy dubious business relations with statutory bodies can still face anti-competition investigations even though these quasi-government agencies are out of the regulatory net, Competition Commission chairwoman Anna Wu Hung-yuk has warned. The competition watchdog had the power to access their trading information from the statutory bodies for investigation purposes, she said in an interview with the South China Morning Post ahead of a landmark law, the Competition Ordinance, which comes into effect today. All 575 statutory bodies such as Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, the Securities and Futures Commission and the Trade Development Council are covered by general laws but not specific rules in the ordinance such as on price fixing, bid rigging, limiting supply to jack up prices and profits, market sharing, and the exchange of commercially sensitive information. But their business partners do not escape these rules. "Private contractors or suppliers of services are subject to our remit - for example bid rigging … the law can't stop us from getting information from the statutory bodies when we need investigation and evidence." A law in the making for more than two decades, the Competition Ordinance is set to check anti-competition behaviour as the city joins more than 100 other jurisdictions with such laws. READ MORE: Hong Kong competition law: advice for companies on staying within the new rules In Hong Kong, the competition law remains a civil liability. Offenders face a fine of up to 10 per cent of their Hong Kong turnover for each year of the infringement. Company directors face a ban of up to five years and can be sued by clients. As its first order of business, Wu said the commission had identified property maintenance firms and fuel suppliers such as petrol stations as top targets of research, as the former were notorious for bid rigging and the latter for cartels. "We will pick our tigers carefully and strategically. We will say to them we are ready to pounce on them when there is a chance." But whether the commission has enough resources to snare tigers remains to be seen. In its first two years of operation, it has salted away HK$30 million in reserves, but Wu said government funding of at least HK$100 million was needed for the cost of future litigation. Last week, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung said it would ensure sufficient resources but that talk of more funding was premature. Wu said: "The good thing about the reserve is we have a small amount; the bad thing is it won't get us very far. It does not matter how the funding is done or in what form, what matters is we have a handsome reserve to deal with nasty litigations." Ex-legislator Ronny Tong Ka-wah, who had long pushed for such a law, said he was not about to break out the champagne. It rankled, he said, that several in the 14-member commission were businessmen once opposed to the rules and connected to conglomerates. "I hope those people will not be an obstacle to future investigations," Tong said.