Condos are shown in Toronto on Tuesday, April 25, 2017. The Competition Bureau says it has laid criminal charges against four companies and three individuals in connection with an alleged conspiracy to commit fraud and rig bids for condominium refurbishments in the Toronto area.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Condos are shown in Toronto on Tuesday, April 25, 2017. The Competition Bureau says it has laid criminal charges against four companies and three individuals in connection with an alleged conspiracy to commit fraud and rig bids for condominium refurbishments in the Toronto area.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Competition Bureau lays charges in alleged bid-rigging scheme at Toronto condos

Charges follow an extensive investigation prompted by whistleblower’s complaint in 2012

TORONTO — Criminal charges have been laid against four companies and three individuals in connection with an alleged conspiracy to commit fraud and rig bids for condominium refurbishments in the Toronto area, the Competition Bureau of Canada announced Monday.

In a news release, the federal law enforcement agency says the alleged offences took place between 2009 and 2014 and targeted condominium corporations and owners of condos through bid-rigging schemes that likely resulted in higher prices.

“Criminal conspiracies that undermine competitive markets can cause extreme damage to our economy,” said commissioner of competition Matthew Boswell in a news 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.”

The charges follow an extensive investigation prompted by a whistleblower’s complaint in 2012, said bureau spokesman Marcus Callaghan in an email.

He said the bureau obtained court orders in May 2016 requiring 140 individual condominium corporations in the Greater Toronto Area provide information in relation to a total of 127 refurbishment contracts awarded between 2006 and 2014.

“The Competition Bureau alleges that the accused conspired together to submit bids arranged by agreement for refurbishment contracts issued by private condominium corporations in the GTA between 2009 and 2014,” he said.

Confidentiality rules prevent further detail about the alleged wrongdoing, Callaghan said.

Charged under the Criminal Code with conspiracy to rig bids, conspiracy to commit fraud and fraud over $5,000 are TRI-CAN Contract Inc. and owner Bob Vlahopoulos; JCO & Associates (912547 Ontario Inc.) and owner Jose De Oliveira; as well as LAR Condominium Refurbishment Specialists (Lidio Romanin Construction Co. Ltd.) and owner Tony Romanin.

A fourth company, CPL Interiors Ltd., is charged under the conspiracy provision of the Competition Act for its alleged role.

The criminal offences can all result in jail terms and fines, Callaghan said. None of the allegations has been proven in court.

The bureau is well-known for its rulings on corporate mergers but is also involved in investigating cartels, formed when competitors conspire to lessen or prevent competition.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 29, 2021.

CondosToronto

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Rebels forward Ethan Rowland battles with Medicine Hat Tigers forward Brett Kemp during WHL action at the Centrium Saturday night. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers claw back, hand Rebels 11th straight loss

Tigers 5 Rebels 2 The same old issues continue to plague the… Continue reading

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
AstraZeneca vaccine is ready to be used at a homeless shelter in Romford, east London, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Frank Augstein
AstraZeneca-linked blood clot confirmed in Alberta

A case of an AstraZeneca-linked blood clot has been confirmed in Alberta,… Continue reading

The Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools Board of Trustees selected the name St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School to be built in the north end of Red Deer. (Photo Courtesy of  Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools)
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools raises about $8,720 for Terry Fox Foundation

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools raised about $8,720 for the Terry Fox… Continue reading

A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Alberta declines Ontario’s request to send health-care workers

Alberta is “not in a position” to send health-care workers out of… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

Ontario Premier Doug Ford points on a COVID-19 caseload projection model graph during a press conference at Queen's Park, in Toronto, Friday, April 16, 2021. Ontario was set to backtrack on controversial new police powers to enforce stay-at-home orders implemented in the battle against COVID-19.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ford backtracks on new police COVID-19 powers amid intense backlash

TORONTO — Furious criticism of new anti-pandemic powers that allow police in… Continue reading

The official program for the National Commemorative Ceremony in honour of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, sits on an empty pew prior to the ceremony at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa on Saturday, April 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prince Philip remembered as ‘a man of great service’ during Canada’s memorial service

Canada’s commemorative ceremony in honour of the late Prince Philip offered a… Continue reading

CF Montreal head coach Wilfried Nancy speaks to his players during the team's practice Tuesday, March 16, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
CF Montreal puts on a show, defeating Toronto FC 4-2 in MLS season opener

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — CF Montreal, carving open Toronto FC’s defence, cruised… Continue reading

Demonstrators using umbrellas as shields approach a point in a perimeter security fence during a protest over the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright during traffic stop, outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department, Friday, April 16, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Journalists allege police harassment at Minnesota protests

Some journalists covering protests over the police fatal shooting of Daunte Wright,… Continue reading

A container ship is docked in the Port of Montreal, Wednesday, February 17, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Montreal dockworkers begin weekend strikes as talks drag on

MONTREAL — Dockworkers at the Port of Montreal kicked off a series… Continue reading

Brad Dahr, 53, is facing numerous charges. (Photo contributed by Alberta RCMP)
Alberta man charged for alleged sexual offences against children

An Edmonton man has been charged for alleged sexual offences against children… Continue reading

A person walks past a COVID-19 mural designed by artist Emily May Rose on a rainy day during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, April 12, 2021. Employment lawyers say flouting COVID-19 public health orders when off the job or coming into work while knowingly sick could warrant discipline in the workplace. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Risky pandemic behaviour off the clock could mean workplace discipline: lawyers

CALGARY — Employment lawyers say flouting COVID-19 public health orders when off… Continue reading

Vials containing Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for COVID-19 are seen at the San Marino State Hospital, in San Marino, Friday, April 9, 2021.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Antonio Calanni
China, Russia using their COVID-19 vaccines to gain political influence

OTTAWA — China and Russia have been using their locally produced COVID-19… Continue reading

Most Read