The Competition Bureau Continues to Make History in its Enforcement of the Criminal Conspiracy Provisions of the Competition Act

For the second time in as many months, the Competition Bureau (the “Bureau”) has made an historic announcement about its efforts to enforce the criminal conspiracy provisions of the Competition Act (the “Act”).

On July 20, 2016, the Bureau announced that it would avail itself of the bilateral Memorandum of Understanding between Canada and the United States to defer criminal charges under the Act. In this piece of the Bureau’s larger automotive parts investigation, the Bureau ultimately refrained from charging or prosecuting Nishikawa Rubber Co., Inc. (a co-conspirator in a bid-rigging scheme), instead deferring to the US Department of Justice, which had obtained an agreement from Nishikawa to plead guilty and pay a fine of US$130 million in the US. This appears to be the first time the Bureau has publicly deferred prosecution in an international cartel investigation to a foreign antitrust agency in circumstances where there were direct effects in Canada.

More recently, the Bureau announced that, as part of plea agreement for rigging bids, the accused would assist the Bureau in its corporate compliance efforts by participating in two public presentations made by Bureau staff—another first in the history of enforcing the criminal conspiracy provisions of the Act.

In addition to Linda Graham’s 18-month conditional sentence for rigging bids relating to government IT contracts, she will speak out about bid rigging and about her personal experience defrauding the government. While novel, this part of Ms. Graham’s sentence fits comfortably with the Bureau’s 2016-17 Annual Plan and the Commissioner’s commitment to competition compliance.