OTTAWA, March 20, 2012 — The Competition Bureau announced that Pioneer Energy LP, Canadian Tire Corporation, and Mr. Gas pleaded guilty today to fixing the price of retail gasoline from May to November 2007 in Kingston and Brockville, Ontario.
The Bureau uncovered evidence that the competitors agreed among themselves to set the gas price for consumers at the pump. The companies pleaded guilty before the Ontario Superior Court in Brockville to price-fixing under the Competition Act and were fined a total of $2 million. Each of the companies will be subject to a court order for ten years and they must educate their employees about the Act.
"Consumers in Kingston and Brockville were denied a competitive price for gasoline as a result of this criminal price-fixing cartel," said Melanie Aitken, Commissioner of Competition.
"The Bureau will not hesitate to take action when it uncovers evidence of illegal price-fixing."
The pleas are as follows:
- Pioneer Energy LP pleaded guilty to price-fixing in Kingston and Brockville, and was fined $985,000;
- Canadian Tire Corporation pleaded guilty to price-fixing in Kingston and Brockville, and was fined $900,000; and
- Mr. Gas pleaded guilty to price-fixing in Brockville and was fined $150,000.
Today's criminal charges and guilty pleas are the result of an extensive Bureau investigation that found evidence that gas retailers or their representatives in these local markets phoned each other and agreed on the price they would charge customers for gasoline. The Bureau's investigation into potential price-fixing in the retail gasoline market continues in the Southeastern Ontario market.
Price-fixing conspiracies are difficult to detect and prove. High or identical prices are not in and of themselves evidence of criminal activity. There must be evidence that competitors have made an illegal agreement to set those prices. When there are substantiated allegations of wrongdoing in the marketplace, the Bureau will not hesitate to investigate.
For further information on the investigation, price-fixing and the Bureau's investigative tools, please consult our backgrounder.
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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