On February 17, the Competition Bureau announced
that three construction companies—Construction G.T.R.L.
(1990) Inc., Acoustique JCG Inc., and Entreprises de Construction
OPC Inc.—have pled guilty to charges of bid-rigging in a
construction project involving the expansion of the Chicoutimi
hospital. The case comes less than half a year after a similar bid-rigging scheme involving
ventilation companies in Montreal was uncovered and prosecuted,
resulting in the imposition of a substantial fine and a prohibition
The companies involved in the Chicoutimi hospital bid-rigging
scheme were handed down the following fines by the Quebec Superior
Court of Justice:
Construction G.T.R.L. was ordered to pay a CDN $ 50,000
Acoustique JCG Inc. and Entreprises de Construction: were each
ordered to pay a CDN $ 25,000 fine.
In addition to the foregoing, the companies will be subject to a
court order for 10 years following the date of conviction.
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withdrawn.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 revealed
that the parties entered into an agreement that pre-determined the
winner of the contracts for the expansion of the emergency room at
the Chicoutimi hospital in 2003.
The Commissioner of Competition, Melanie Aitken, commented on
the harmful effects of bid-rigging, saying "in this case, the
bid-rigging scheme ultimately harmed the Chicoutimi Hospital and
Saguenay residents, by preventing the hospital from obtaining a
competitive price for its renovation."
We will continue to monitor civil and criminal enforcement
actions under the Competition Act as they arise. For more
information on Canada's Competition Act and Investment Canada
Act, see our primer here.
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