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Competition Bureau lays charges in alleged bid rigging scheme at Toronto condo project

The Canadian Press
Competition Bureau lays charges in alleged bid rigging scheme at Toronto condo project

TORONTO — The Competition Bureau says it has laid criminal charges against four companies and three individuals in connection with an alleged conspiracy to commit fraud and rig bids for condominium refurbishments in the Toronto area.

In a news release, the federal law enforcement agency says the alleged offences took place between 2009 and 2014 and targeted condominium corporations and owners of condos through bid-rigging schemes that likely resulted in higher prices.

Charged under the Criminal Code with conspiracy to rig bids, conspiracy to commit fraud and fraud over $5,000 are TRI-CAN Contract Incorporated and owner Bob Vlahopoulos; JCO & Associates (912547 Ontario Inc.) and owner Jose De Oliveira; as well as LAR Condominium Refurbishment Specialists (Lidio Romanin Construction Company Limited) and owner Tony Romanin.

A fourth company, CPL Interiors Ltd., is charged under the conspiracy provision of the Competition Act for its role in the alleged scheme.

The bureau is well-known for its rulings on corporate mergers but is also involved in investigating cartels, formed when competitors conspire to lessen or prevent competition.

It says the most common forms of cartel conduct include rigging bids, fixing prices, market allocation and output restriction. Cartels are illegal because they lead to higher prices, decreased product choice and less innovation.

“Criminal conspiracies that undermine competitive markets can cause extreme damage to our economy,” said commissioner of competition Matthew Boswell in a news release.

“The message should be loud and clear: if you enter into criminal agreements with your competitors, we will do everything in our power to uncover the facts and bring the evidence to court.”

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