The Competition Bureau has announced that the Public Prosecution Service of Canada filed a preferred indictment against five contractors in Brandon, Manitoba, for alleged conspiracy to divide up contracts, among themselves, for refurbishment services for social housing units.

The charges stem from a Bureau investigation that found evidence that the accused individuals manipulated at least 89 contracts awarded by the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation between approximately December 2011 and February 2016.

These contracts are valued at approximately $4.5 million.

The 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. 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,” said Matthew Boswell Commissioner of Competition.

The Bureau acknowledged the extensive assistance it received from the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation, and the Brandon Police Service during the course of its investigation.