Archived — Charges Laid in Residential Construction Bid-Rigging Scheme in Montreal

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Ottawa, December 21, 2010 — The Competition Bureau announced today that criminal charges have been laid against eight companies and five individuals accused of rigging bids for private sector ventilation contracts for residential highrise buildings in the Montreal area.

The Bureau uncovered evidence indicating that several companies specializing in ventilation, air conditioning and heating services, secretly coordinated their bids in order to pre-determine the winners of the contracts, while blocking out honest competitors.

"Homeowners in the Montreal region were defrauded by this illegal scheme," said Melanie Aitken, Commissioner of Competition. "The companies charged today are accused of inflating the cost of their goods and services, depriving consumers of the benefits of honest competition, including competitive prices."

The Bureau's investigation found evidence of criminal activity in five competitive bidding processes between 2003 and 2005, for contracts worth approximately $8 million. The contracts in question relate to the supply and installation of ventilation and/or air conditioning systems in residential highrise construction projects in the greater Montreal region. For further information regarding today's charges, please consult our backgrounder.

Under the Competition Act, it is a criminal offence for two or more bidders, in response to a call for bids or tenders, to agree that one party will refrain from bidding, withdraw a submitted bid, or agree among themselves on bids submitted, without informing the person calling for the bids of this agreement. Penalties for bid-rigging include a fine at the discretion of the court and/or a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

The Competition Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, ensures that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace.


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