Archived — Sixth individual pleads guilty in Quebec gasoline cartel case

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OTTAWA, March 30, 2009 — The Competition Bureau announced today that another individual has pleaded guilty to criminal charges for conspiring to fix the price of gasoline at the pump in Sherbrooke and Magog, Quebec.

Christian Payette, sales director for Les Pétroles Global Inc., a company specializing in the sale of petroleum products under the Olco and Esso banners, was sentenced to 12 months in jail.

"Price-fixing is a serious crime that harms businesses and individuals by depriving them of the benefits of competitive markets, such as lower prices, innovative rivalry and greater choice," said Melanie L. Aitken, Interim Commissioner of Competition. "The Bureau is committed to pursuing those engaging in price-fixing whenever there is evidence of such criminal behaviour."

The Quebec Superior Court agreed to allow Payette to serve his sentence in the community, given that he has no prior criminal record, and the court's assessment that he does not pose a danger to society. As well, Mr. Payette was ordered to make a $5,000 donation to a non-profit organization.

This guilty plea follows charges laid in the case in June 2008 against 13 individuals and 11 companies concerning operations in four local Quebec markets. Payette is the sixth individual to plead guilty in this matter. To date, fines in this case total over $2.6 million and imprisonment terms total 44 months.

More information on past convictions and fines related to this cartel can be found on the Bureau's website.

The Competition Bureau's investigation into potential price-fixing in the retail gasoline market continues in other markets in Canada.

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


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