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Archived — Criminal charges laid by Competition Bureau in gas price-fixing Case

OTTAWA, July 15, 2010 — The Competition Bureau 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.

Unless new evidence comes to light, these charges mark the final charges in the largest criminal investigation in the history of the Competition Bureau. Investigators seized over 100,000 records, searched over 80 locations, and intercepted thousands of telephone conversations over the course of the investigation.

"These charges demonstrate that we are unwavering in our commitment to crack down on cartels," said Melanie Aitken, Commissioner of Competition. "This case of price-fixing in the gasoline industry illustrates how cartels cheat honest taxpayers out of their money."

The Bureau's other investigations into price-fixing in the gasoline industry outside of Quebec are ongoing. According to Statistics Canada, Canadians spent over $38 billion on automotive fuels, oils and additives in 2009.

The charges were broken up into two groups owing to the size of the case. Today's 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. The names of the individuals and companies charged are available on the Bureau's Web site. A complete list of the pleas, fines, and sentences in this case to date is also available.

The Bureau's investigation found evidence that gas 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.

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 following documents are also available on the Competition Bureau Web site:

  • Backgrounder: Further details on the Bureau's investigation.
  • Gas Prices: Answers to frequently asked questions and information about Bureau activities concerning gasoline and other petroleum products.
  • Criminal Investigations — Basic Process: A short outline of how the Competition Bureau investigates marketplace activity which may be subject to criminal sanctions under the Competition Act.

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.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Media Relations
Tel.: 819-994-5945

For general enquiries, please contact:
Information Centre
Competition Bureau
Telephone: 819-997-4282
Toll free: 1-800-348-5358
TTY (hearing impaired): 1‑866‑694‑8389

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