In a rare preferred indictment that could have a ripple effect across Canada, five contractors in Manitoba have been charged in a conspiracy to commit fraud in social housing renovation projects.
The federal government’s Competition Bureau announced Monday that the Public Prosecution Service of Canada has filed charges against five contractors in Brampton for alleged conspiracy to divide up contracts, amongst themselves, for the refurbishment services for social housing units.
It is alleged that George Gregoire, Guy Pringle, James Kauk, Ryan Lamont, and Doug Gunnarson “manipulated” at least 89 contracts awarded by the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation between approximately December 2011 and February 2016. This essentially means the contractors are alleged to have colluded with each other to ensure no one else is awarded these social housing contracts except their group.
The combined value of the contracts are worth about $4.5 million.
The five individuals have each been charged under the Criminal Code with conspiracy to commit fraud over $5,000, and under the Competition Act for conspiracy to allocate contracts.
“Manipulating contracts to suppress competition is a serious crime. It results in higher costs for construction projects and is especially concerning when it comes to affordable housing,” reads a statement by Matthew Boswell, the Commissioner of Competition for the federal government.
“Cracking down on cartels is a top priority for the Competition Bureau, and we are determined to pursue all those who collude to increase their profits by defrauding public funds.”
The punishment for being convicted of price-fixing, allocating markets, or conspiracy is fines of up to $25 million and/or a prison sentence of up to 14 years.
This article was originally sourced from www.dailyhive.com