Real estate consulting firm guilty of bid rigging
August 2nd, 2012
The Competition Bureau’s prosecution of the real estate advisory bid-rigging conspiracy for federal contracts continued with the announcement on July 30 that Corporate Research Group (CRG), pleaded guilty.
CRG collaborated with Louis Facchini – who was carrying on business as First Porter Consultancy – in submitting bids in response to the request for standing offers from the Department of Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC). CRG admits that these bids were arrived at by an agreement that was not disclosed to the PWGSC.
CRG agreed to pay a $125,000 fine. The court also issued an order prohibiting CRG from engaging in any conduct contrary to the bid-rigging provisions of the Competition Act.
The call for bids came in 2007, and the investigation was initiated in 2009, after PWGSC notified the Competition Bureau of the possibility of bid-rigging following a request for standing offers for real estate advisory services. CRG charged the federal government $312,000 for the work.
Although the court order did not bar CRG from procuring future government contracts, nor did it affect CRG’s current government contracts, PWGSC has yet to determine how they will move forward. A spokesperson for PWGSC said: “The department’s legal team is exploring options as to whether (CRG) can continue with these contracts”. (See Ottawa Citizen article.)
In its announcement, the Bureau indicated its reliance on the Immunity and Leniency Programs in this investigation, writing: “The Bureau’s investigation benefited from cooperation under the Bureau’s Immunity and Leniency Programs, which create incentives for parties to address their criminal liability by cooperating with the Bureau in its ongoing investigation and prosecution of other alleged cartel participants.”
For more information, see the Bureau’s July 30 Press release.