|By Marketwire .||
|September 28, 2012 02:32 PM EDT||
OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 09/28/12 -- The Competition Bureau announced today that criminal charges have been laid against Irving Oil and Mr. Serge Parent, manager of Irving Oil for the province of Quebec, for fixing the price of retail gasoline in Victoriaville, Thetford Mines and Sherbrooke, Quebec.
As a result of the Bureau's investigation, first made public in 2008, three charges have been laid against Irving Oil and three against Mr. Parent.
"These charges highlight our continued and steadfast commitment to combating domestic price-fixing cartels," said John Pecman, Interim Commissioner of Competition. "Canadians are ultimately on the losing end of secret agreements that cheat them out of their money."
By using a number of investigative tools, including wiretaps and searches, the Bureau found evidence that in certain local Quebec markets gas retailers, or their representatives, communicated with one another to agree on the price they would charge customers for gasoline.
Thirty-nine individuals and 15 companies have now been charged with criminal price-fixing in this case. To date, 27 individuals and seven companies have pleaded guilty with fines totalling over $3 million. Of the 27 individuals who have pleaded guilty, six have been sentenced to terms of imprisonment totalling 54 months.
Price-fixing conspiracies are difficult to detect and prove. High or identical prices are not in and of themselves evidence of criminal activity. There must be evidence that competitors have made an illegal agreement to set those prices. When there are substantiated allegations of wrongdoing in the marketplace, the Bureau will not hesitate to take action.
Additional information on past convictions and fines related to this cartel can be found on the Bureau's website.
The Competition Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, ensures that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace.