A hearing in Ottawa has heard about a large, profitable and unregulated bus and minivan trade plying the highways between Toronto and Montreal.

The hearing, held by the Ontario Highway Transportation Board, heard evidence from private investigators hired by the Trentway-Wagar bus company.

One of the people to appear before the tribunal was Jassa Singh Dhillon, the owner of Essor Travel. Five people died in July when an Essor minivan hit a median and rolled on Highway 401.

Dillon was one of several drivers given a cease-and-desist order by the tribunal on Tuesday.

But some unlicensed operators say the big bus companies are just trying to drive them out of business because they're afraid of the competition.

Rudy Adler of Montreal told the tribunal he wasn't operating a travel service. But after he was given a cease-and-desist order anyway, he accused Trentway-Wagar of trying unfairly to link him to the Essor tragedy.

Trentway-Wagar officials say Adler lied about his business dealings, adding that his maintenance schedule doesn't comply with government standards.