Conspiracy charges laid after years-long bid-rigging inquiry

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

A years-long inquiry into allegations of bid-rigging and conspiracy in the supply of condo refurbishment services has finally wrapped up as the Competition Bureau laid multiple criminal charges against four companies and three individuals in the Greater Toronto Area.

As previously reported in 2016, in a story for CondoBusiness, “bid-rigging is when, in response to a call for bids or tenders, two or more parties agree, unbeknownst to the organization issuing the call, that one or more of them will withdraw or withhold a bid, or make submissions based on an arrangement with competing bidders. Conspiracy deals with an agreement between competitors to fix the price or restrict the supply of a product or services, or to allocate customers or markets.”

The following companies and individuals have each been charged under the Criminal Code with conspiracy to rig bids, conspiracy to commit fraud, and fraud over $5,000: 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., was charged under the conspiracy provision of the Competition Act for its role in the alleged scheme.

The Competition Bureau alleges that the accused conspired to commit fraud and rig bids for refurbishment contracts issued by private condo corporations in the GTA between 2009 and 2014. The condo corporations and the condo owners who fund them are the alleged victims who may be entitled to pursue the recovery of any associated damages.

“Criminal conspiracies that undermine competitive markets can cause extreme damage to our economy,” Commissioner of Competition Matthew Boswell said in a press 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.”

Information about bid-rigging awareness and prevention is available on the Competition Bureau’s website.

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