On 31 March 2005, the Canadian Competition Bureau announced that it had concluded its most recent investigation into an alleged conspiracy to fix retail gasoline prices in Canada. This examination was initiated in May 2004, in response to numerous complaints concerning recent increases in retail gasoline prices in Canada.
For the purposes of this investigation, the Bureau evaluated information collected from various industry experts and participants. It also retained a former member of the Competition Tribunal to conduct an economic analysis of the effects of developments in international petroleum markets on Canadian prices.
In the end, the Bureau found no evidence of a conspiracy among gasoline companies to fix retail prices or to reduce refining capacity.
Rather, the Bureau attributed the rapid rise in retail prices largely to high crude oil prices and low gasoline inventories caused by a legitimate shortage of refining capacity in North America. The Bureau also noted that, before taxes, retail gasoline prices in Canada continue to be lower than equivalent prices in most industrialised countries, including the United States.
This is the fifth time since 1990 that the Bureau has investigated and dismissed allegations of pricing collusion in the Canadian gasoline industry. However, the Bureau’s inquiries into this industry are not yet complete. It continues to investigate what it describes as the "many" complaints it has received from independent gasoline retailers throughout 2004 into alleged predatory pricing by the major gasoline companies in Canada.
"Competition Bureau Concludes Examination into Complaints about High Gasoline Prices" cb-bc.bc.ca/epic/internet/incb.bc.nsf/en/ct03077e.html
On 17 March, Australia’s Federal Court imposed heavy fines on eight companies and eight executives for fixing the price of gasoline in Ballarat, a town about 80 miles from Melbourne. The ACCC Chairman, Graeme Samuel, said afterwards that the gravity of price-fixing "would not be recognised as such by senior corporate employees and directors until gaol terms are introduced."
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