Competition Bureau Canada

Competition Bureau Canada

March 17, 2009 12:04 ET

Competition Bureau Canada: More Guilty Pleas in Quebec Gasoline Cartel Case

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 17, 2009) - The Competition Bureau announced today that two more individuals and one more company have pleaded guilty to criminal charges for conspiring to fix the price of gasoline at pumps in Victoriaville and Thetford Mines, Quebec.

These guilty pleas follow charges laid in that case in June 2008 against 13 individuals and 11 companies operating in Victoriaville, Thetford Mines, Magog and Sherbrooke.

Today's guilty pleas bring the total fines in this case to over $2.6 million. Of the five individuals who have pleaded guilty, three have been sentenced to terms of imprisonment totalling 32 months.

"This is a clear message that the Competition Bureau will vigorously pursue offenders when it uncovers evidence that they have broken the law," said Melanie L. Aitken, Interim Commissioner of Competition.

Today's pleas involve Carol Lehoux, a senior executive of Philippe Gosselin et Associes Limitee, and Andre Bilodeau, a former representative of Philippe Gosselin et Associes Limitee, as well as Philippe Gosselin et Associes Limitee, a company specializing in the sale of petroleum products (under the Shell banner).

The firm of Philippe Gosselin & Associes Limitee was fined $600,000. Bilodeau and Lehoux were each sentenced to 10 months in jail, as well as 75 hours of community service for their involvement in the conspiracy. The Quebec Superior Court agreed to allow Bilodeau and Lehoux to serve their sentences in the community, given that neither has a prior criminal record, and the court's assessment that neither poses a danger to society.

Bilodeau and Lehoux are the fourth and fifth individuals to plead guilty in this matter. Philippe Gosselin et Associes Limitee is the fourth company to plead guilty. Other companies that have pleaded guilty are: Les Petroles Therrien Inc. (which operates under the Petro-T banner); Distributions Petrolieres Therrien Inc.; and Ultramar Ltee.

The Competition Bureau's investigation into potential price fixing in the retail gasoline market continues in other markets in Canada.

The Competition Bureau is an independent agency that contributes to the prosperity of Canadians by protecting and promoting competitive markets and enabling informed consumer choice.

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