The Competition Bureau has charged four companies and three individuals with bid-rigging in the residential condominium renovations marketplace.
Bid-rigging schemes are when two or more persons conspire in the submission or withdrawal of bids, without informing the person requesting the bids beforehand, about an agreement made between parties. Victims pay higher prices for goods and services.
Five years ago, the Competition Bureau began exploring allegations of bid-rigging and conspiracy in response to a 2012 whistleblower complaint. More than 140 Toronto area condominium corporations were ordered to hand over renovation records relating to “budget, tendering, bidding, negotiating and awarding of a contract for the renovations to the common areas of the condominium corporation’s building(s)”. The investigation was looking at condominium corporations involved in 127 contracts for common area renovations of shared spaces including party rooms, lobbies and parking garages between 2006 and 2014. Some contracts were in the millions of dollars. Selected corporations, which were not targets of the investigation, were from a group of 400 whose names were found on computers seized from contractors and designers involved with condominium renovations. See Competition Bureau Looks into Condo Renovations in the Condo Archives for more information.
During this investigation nine warrants were issued to obtain additional records from ten condominium corporations.
Multiple criminal charges were filed for conspiracy to commit fraud and rig bids in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) between 2009 and 2014 against TRI-CAN Contract Incorporated and owner Bob Vlahopoulos; JCO & Associates (912547 Ontario Inc.) and owner Jose De Oliveira; and 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. Matthew Boswell of the Competition Bureau in a news release states “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”.
This matter is now before the courts.