On 16 August 2013, Canada’s Competition Bureau announced the sentences for three individuals found guilty in March for conspiring to fix the price of petrol at the pump. The Bureau’s investigation into price-fixing of retail petrol in certain local markets in the province of Quebec was first made public in 2008. The three individuals were charged on 15 July 2010 and found guilty on 22 March 2013 after a two month trial before the Quebec Superior Court.
Yves Gosselin, an Irving employee, Michel Lagrandeur, an independent dealer under the Shell banner, and Linda Proulx an independent dealer under the Petro-Canada banner have each been ordered to pay CAD15,000. They have not been given custodial sentences. Another guilty verdict was entered on 9 August 2013 against Les Pétroles Global Inc. after a two week trial. The Ontario based company has yet to be sentenced by the court, but the Bureau has indicated that it will be looking for a fine of up to CAD10 million.
The latest verdicts take the total charged in the investigation to 39 individuals and 15 companies. 33 individuals and seven companies have either pleaded or been found guilty. Six people have been given terms of imprisonment totalling 54 months and fines of more than CAD3 million have been imposed. Several defendants have been ordered to make donations to charity rather than going to prison or paying a fine to government.
It is alleged that most of the gas retailers in the Sherbrooke, Magog, Victoriaville and Thetford Mines communities of Quebec participated in the cartel between 2004 and 2006. Charges were filed under the Competition Act after investigators with wiretaps leaned that gas retailers agreed through telephone calls the prices they would charge motorists at the pumps.
While most of the companies and individuals charged are associated with major oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Petro-Canada, Irving Oil Corp. and Esso, the Bureau has stressed that the cartel was limited to the four markets in Quebec and that local operators were responsible for the price manipulation.