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Canada issues $750k fine over bid-rigging

6 Mar 20 A third engineering firm has been fined over bid-rigging on municipal infrastructure contracts in Quebec, Canada.

Competition Bureau Canada has announced that engineering firm Roche ltée, Groupe-conseil (now Norda Stelo Inc) has been ordered to pay CA$750,000 (£433,000) over four years. The payment is part of a settlement reached by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada and filed today (5th March) with the Superior Court of Québec.

The settlement ends the Competition Bureau’s investigation of the company’s role in a bid-rigging scheme that targeted municipal contracts in Québec City and Lévis between 2006 and 2012, when the company was operating as Roche.

The settlement takes into account the fact that Roche previously reimbursed overpayments related to the bid-rigging through the Government of Quebec’s Voluntary Reimbursement Program. It also takes into account the company’s limited financial resources and that the individuals involved in the scheme no longer work for the firm.

As part of the settlement, the Court has also ordered the company to maintain its corporate compliance program, which is designed to prevent further anti-competitive activity by its employees.

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This is the third settlement with an engineering firm resulting from the Competition Bureau’s ongoing investigation. Dessau and WSP Canada (formerly Genivar) were previously ordered to pay CA$1.9m and CA$4m respectively for their roles in the bid-rigging scheme.

The investigation has also resulted in guilty pleas by four former executives of engineering firms Cima+, Genivar and Dessau for bid-rigging on City of Gatineau infrastructure contracts. They received conditional prison sentences totalling five years and 11 months, and court-ordered community service totalling 260 hours.

“The payments in these settlements are over and above what the companies have already reimbursed to the affected municipalities,” said Stéphane Lamoureux, senior deputy commissioner, cartels and deceptive marketing practices. “I hope that sends a clear message to those who think they can steal money from taxpayers by rigging bids.”

“Bid-rigging raises the cost of products or services,” said Competition Bureau Canada. “Bid-rigging on municipal contracts amounts to a theft of taxpayers’ money that could otherwise be spent on important public needs.”

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