The Competition Bureau announced last week that they’ve laid charges against Irving Oil Ltd. and another of its employees in a price-fixing investigation.
There are three charges against the company and three against its Quebec manager, Serge Parent, after an investigation first announced in 2008.
An Irving Oil Ltd. representative responded to the charges by telling CBC the charges stemmed from the actions of former employees who faced internal discipline once their activities were discovered; the spokeswoman went on to say Irving Oil shouldn’t be held responsible for actions of its employees that violated company policy.
According to their news release, Competition Bureau used wiretaps and searches in the investigation, and ended up charging 15 companies and 39 individuals (some of them Irving employees); seven of the companies and 27 of the individuals have already pleaded guilty There has been $3 million in fines and 54 months in jail time handed out so far, although it seems many of the offenders are serving their time in the community.
You can read more about the case here. If you live in one of the towns the Competition Bureau investigated (Victoriaville, Thetford Mines and Sherbrooke, Quebec), you may want to take note of which gas stations were gouging customers illegally.
If you live elsewhere, maybe it’s time to pressure the Competition Bureau to investigate the gas retailers in your area. Just make sure you have enough solid evidence to go ahead with; simply having similar prices at competing gas stations isn’t enough to go on.