Les Entreprises Promécanic Ltée
(Promécanic), a ventilation company based in Laval,
Québec, has pleaded guilty to three criminal charges of
bid-rigging for tenders issued by its contractors in 2004 and 2005.
On July 19, 2011, Promécanic was fined C$425,000 by the
Superior Court of Québec for participating in agreements to
fix the outcome of bids for the installation of residential
ventilation systems in Montreal.
In December, 2010, the Competition Bureau's investigation of
eight ventilation systems companies culminated in the laying of
criminal charges for bid-rigging against Promécanic and
seven others. Bid-rigging, which is defined in section 47 of the Competition Act,
prohibits bidders from entering into an agreement not to submit
bids or to submit pre-arranged bids when responding to a bid or
tender call. The criminal sanction under section 47 applies if the
person calling for the bids is not made aware of the agreement at
or before the time when the bid or tender is submitted or
withdrawn. In this case, the Bureau's investigation found
evidence of collusion among the eight ventilation companies in five
separate competitive bidding processes valued at approximately C$8
million. The maximum penalties for bid-rigging include a fine that
is at the discretion of the court and/or a prison term not
exceeding 14 years.
Promécanic admitted to secretly arranging with its
competitors to fix the price of the winning bids for ventilation
systems contracts in the Montreal region. In addition to fining
Promécanic C$425,000, the Quebec court issued a 10 year
prohibition order against the company's estimator, Joël
Perreault, preventing him from engaging in acts that could lead to
further contraventions of section 47. Mr. Perreault was charged in
2006 with obstructing the Bureau's investigation of
Promécanic by destroying documents during the execution of a
search warrant. In exchange for his subsequent cooperation in the
Bureau's prosecution of the other seven defendants, the
obstruction charges against Mr. Perreault were dropped.
The investigation and prosecution of cartels and related
bid-rigging offences under Part VI of the Competition Act is a top
priority for the Commissioner of Competition, Melanie Aitken.
"The Competition Bureau will continue to vigorously seek
prosecution against those who thwart the forces of
competition" Aitken said. "Homeowners in the Montreal
region were defrauded by this illegal scheme", she commented,
adding that "bid-rigging deprives Canadians of the benefits of
a competitive market, including lower prices and product
choice". The other seven companies facing charges in the
Bureau's bid-rigging investigation include Groupe SCV Inc., Les
Entreprises de Ventilation Climasol Inc., Lys Air Mécanic
Inc., Guaranteed Industries Ltd., Ventilation G.R., Kolostat Inc.,
and Ventilex Inc. More information can be found here
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