The Competition Bureau charged fourteen people and seven Ottawa firms in a bid-rigging scheme to provide information-technology services for $67-million worth of federal contracts.
The Bureau claims its investigation uncovered evidence that certain companies co-ordinated bids to win contracts and divide them up while shutting out other bidders. This is the first bid-rigging case to result in criminal charges involving IT-related services.
The people and companies were charged under the Competition Act. They also face criminal charges of conspiracy. The accused will appear in the Ontario Court of Justice in Ottawa on March 17. The penalty for bid-rigging is up to five years in jail.
What is bid-rigging? The Competition Act provides as follows:
47. (1) In this section, “bid-rigging” means
- (a) an agreement or arrangement between or among two or more persons whereby one or more of those persons agrees or undertakes not to submit a bid in response to a call or request for bids or tenders, or
- (b) the submission, in response to a call or request for bids or tenders, of bids or tenders that are arrived at by agreement or arrangement between or among two or more bidders or tenderers,
where the agreement or arrangement is not made known to the person calling for or requesting the bids or tenders at or before the time when any bid or tender is made by any person who is a party to the agreement or arrangement.
(2) Everyone who is a party to bid-rigging is guilty of an indictable offence and liable on conviction to a fine in the discretion of the court or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to both.
(3) This section does not apply in respect of an agreement or arrangement that is entered into or a submission that is arrived at only by companies each of which is, in respect of every one of the others, an affiliate.
Bid-rigging and conspiracy are serious charges and threaten serious penalties. If you have been charged with white collar charges like these ones, you need an experienced criminal defence lawyer. To speak to Richard Auger about your Competition Act charges, contact us here.