OTTAWA—Something smelled a little off in Quebec sewers during 2008 and 2009.
Following a tip, the Competition Bureau launched an investigation into a bid-rigging scheme surrounding the procurement process for municipal sewer contracts across the province. In 2011, the watchdog filed charges against six companies for rigging the procurement process in 37 calls for tender over the two year span.
Five of those six firms, as well as one of five individuals charged, have now pleaded guilty. Chalifoux Sani Laurentides Inc. became the latest firm, agreeing to pay $118,000 in the Quebec Superior Court in Montreal Feb. 9. Meanwhile, the charges against the company’s owner Michel Chalifoux were stayed.
The Competition Bureau has said the municipalities involved were unaware of the scheme, which tacked more than $3 million onto sewer service contracts in the two-year span. The bid-rigging was uncovered as a result of the Bureau’s immunity program, with one industry competitor cooperating with the investigation in exchange for leniency.