Price-Fixing in Canada

Competition Bureau files charges against 25 individuals, three companies

Published in CSP Daily News

OTTAWA -- The Competition Bureau Canada has announced that new criminal charges have been laid against 25 individuals and three companies accused of fixing the price of gasoline at the pump in Victoriaville, Thetford Mines, Magog and Sherbrooke, Quebec.

While some of the accused operated under the banner of a major oil company, it was the local operators of the gas stations who were responsible for setting the final price at the pump. There is no evidence that the three major national oil companies' corporate offices were involved in these offences.

The bureau's investigation [image-nocss] found evidence that gasoline retailers or their representatives in the four regional markets phoned one another and agreed on the price they would charge customers for gasoline. The evidence suggests that the overwhelming majority of gasoline retailers in these markets participated in the cartel.

Unless new evidence comes to light, these charges mark the final charges in the largest criminal investigation in the history of the Competition Bureau, it said. Investigators seized more than 100,000 records, searched 90 locations and intercepted thousands of telephone conversations over the course of the investigation.

The bureau's other investigations into price-fixing in the gasoline industry outside of Quebec are ongoing.

The charges were broken up into two groups owing to the size of the case. The new charges bring the total to 38 individuals and 14 companies accused in this case. These are new charges against important alleged cartel participants stemming from the extensive bureau investigation that culminated in a first wave of charges in June 2008 ( click here).

Click herefor the names of the individuals and companies charged.

And click here for a complete list of the pleas, fines and sentences in this case to date.

The Competition Bureau used several investigative tools in this case, including wiretaps and searches, as well as its immunity and leniency programs, which create incentives for parties to address their criminal liability by cooperating with the bureau in its ongoing investigation and prosecution of other alleged cartel participants.

The Competition Bureau is an independent law enforcement agency that contributes to the prosperity of Canadians by protecting and promoting competitive markets and enabling informed consumer choice.