Contributing Lawyers

Canada

Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross

Australia

Andrew Hudson



Canada's Competition Bureau Lays Charges Against Gas Price Fixers in Quebec

On June 12, 2008, Canada's Competition Bureau announced that it has laid criminal charges against 13 individuals and 11 companies over allegations that they fixed retail gasoline prices in four Quebec markets: Victoriaville, Thetford Mines, Magog and Sherbrooke.  The Competition Bureau is also conducting investigations of gas price fixing elsewhere in Canada - this may not prove to be an isolated case.

Of the accused, three companies and one person have pleaded guilty in Quebec Superior Court. The Court has imposed fines totalling just over $2 million against the companies which pleaded guilty. The companies are: Les Pétroles Therrien Inc, operating under the Petro-T banner, and Distributions Pétrolières Therrien Inc. ($179,000), and Ultramar Ltée. ($1,850,000). One individual, Jacques Ouellet, an employee of Ultramar Ltée, also pleaded guilty and was fined $50,000.

As part of its active monitoring of Canadian retail gasoline markets, the Competition Bureau became aware of allegations of price-fixing at gas stations in Victoriaville, Quebec. The evidence gathered during the Victoriaville investigation led to further probes in other local markets in Quebec, namely Thetford Mines, Sherbrooke and Magog.

In conducting its investigation, the Bureau uncovered evidence of agreements between competitors to fix the price at the pump at which gasoline was sold to consumers. The evidence indicated that participants in the targeted markets carried out the conspiracy mainly by phoning each other to agree on the price of gasoline and about the timing of price increases, contrary to section 45 of the Competition Act.

The Competition Bureau used several investigative tools in this case, including wiretaps and searches, as well as its Immunity Program. Under this Program, the first party to disclose to the Competition Bureau an offence not yet detected or to provide evidence leading to the filing of charges may receive immunity from the Director of Public Prosecution of Canada as long as the party co-operates with the Bureau.

For more information, please use the following link to the Competition Bureau web-site - http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/epic/site/cb-bc.nsf/en/02693e.html

 

Leave a Reply

remember my information