Canadian businessman John Bennett appeared in a US court last
week after his extradition to the US to face bid-rigging, fraud,
conspiracy, and kick-back charges.
The charges stem from a bid by the company he founded,
Bennett Environmental Inc., to work on an environmental cleanup
project in New Jersey.
Bennett Environmental was an environmental soil remediation
company. Beginning in 2001, it won a series of contracts to
remediate soils at a major environmental cleanup in the US known as
the Federal Creosote site.
An investigation by the US Justice Department's Antitrust
Division revealed that bidders on the project, including Bennett
Environmental, had conspired in the bidding process, fraudulently
inflated the price of certain subcontracts, and paid
In 2008, Bennett Environmental pleaded guilty to one count of
conspiracy to defraud the US Environmental Protection Agency and
was fined $1 million. Two of its executives have also pleaded
guilty. In in 2011, one of them was sentenced to serve 50 months in
a US jail, after pleading guilty to participating in fraud and
money laundering conspiracies (see
The former project manager, Gordon McDonald, who participated in
the scheme and received the kick-backs, was convicted in September 2013, and sentenced in March 2014 to 14 years in prison.
This is the longest ever sentence ever imposed in the US for an
Mr. Bennett was the chairman of the board and chief
executive officer of Bennett Environmental at the time it won the
Federal Creosote contract. In 2009, he was indicted by a Grand Jury
on charges that he orchestrated the bid-rigging, kick-backs, and
other offences. The US applied for
extradition in February 2010. Mr. Bennett fought his
extradition for four years, finally
losing in the BC Court of Appeal in May 2014. The court held
that his defence, which is that he was not involved in the scheme,
was a matter for trial.
Mr. Bennett becomes the first Canadian ever extradited to the US
to face antitrust charges. He is also only the second person ever
extradited to the US to face antitrust charges. In April 2014, a
former executive of a rubber hose manufacturer was extradited from Germany after the first ever
contested extradition on antitrust charges.
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