On November 22, 2011, the Competition Bureau announced that criminal charges had been laid
against six companies and five individuals accused of rigging bids
for municipal and provincial sewer services contracts in the
greater Montreal area. Bid-rigging, in which two or more bidders
agree among themselves on whether or how to submit bids, without
informing the person calling for the bids, is a criminal offence
under section 47 of the Competition Act.
The Crown alleges that the accused
companies and individuals conspired to pre-determine the winners of
37 municipal and provincial calls for tender in 2008 and 2009
related to the cleaning and maintenance of sewers, with a total
value of C$3.3 million. The bidders who were not pre-determined to
win allegedly submitted inflated, token bids in order to mislead
tendering authorities into believing that the processes were
competitive. Because the alleged conduct took place prior to the
2009 amendments to the >Competition Act which increased
the maximum penalties available under section 47, the accused face
maximum penalties of up to five years in prison and/or a fine in
the discretion of the court.
The Bureau also noted that its
investigation benefitted from cooperation under its immunity and
leniency programs, which provide incentives for parties involved in
criminal conduct to self-report the conduct to the Bureau.
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