Sewer services cartel exposed in Quebec

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OTTAWA, ON, Canada, Nov. 23, 2011 -- Canada's Competition Bureau has filed criminal charges against six companies and five individuals accused of rigging bids for municipal and provincial contracts for specialized sewer services in the greater Montreal area.

MSC Réhabilitation Inc. pleaded guilty in Quebec Superior Court in Montreal for its role in the bid-rigging scheme for 12 calls for tender from different municipalities. MSC Réhabilitation was fined $75,000* and is bound by a court order for a period of three years.

The evidence gathered by the Bureau reveals that the companies secretly agreed to coordinate their bids to pre-determine the winners of municipal and provincial contracts for the cleaning and maintenance of sewers.

"This bid-rigging scheme misled officials into believing that tendering processes were competitive," said Melanie Aitken, Commissioner of Competition. "In reality, those charged had submitted token bids designed to ensure that a pre-determined company would win the contracts. The scheme deliberately evaded requirements created to protect taxpayer dollars in the government procurement process."

The charges relate to a total of 37 calls for tender in 2008 and 2009, with a total value of $3.3 million.

The Bureau's investigation benefited from cooperation under the Bureau's Immunity and Leniency Programs, which create incentives for parties to address their criminal liability by cooperating with the Bureau in its ongoing investigation and prosecution of other alleged cartel participants.

The Competition Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, ensures that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace.

*Amounts are Canadian dollars

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