Ottawa tech companies to face trial over bid-rigging charges
An Ottawa judge has ordered a full trial in a case involving five information technology companies charged with rigging bids for $67 million worth of federal government contracts.
The Competition Bureau laid criminal charges in 2009 against 14 individuals and seven Ottawa-area companies, saying the companies had co-ordinated their bids to collectively secure contracts in 2005.
Justice Ann Alder said Wednesday there was enough evidence in the bureau's case against five of the firms to proceed. The firms are:
- TPG Technology Consulting Ltd.
- Spearhead Management Canada Ltd.
- Donna Cona Inc.
- The Devon Group Ltd.
- Brainhunter Inc.
Alder dismissed charges against two other firms, Nortak Software Ltd. and Tipacimowin Technology Inc., as well as one individual, Kevin O'Rourke.
Servicing federal government technology contracts is a multi-billion dollar business. Serge Buy, a spokesman for TPG said the 200 IT companies working to get government contracts all work in the same competitive environment.
"The government has already released through audits...that people gave good services, saved government money," said Buy.
"So for small companies to be charged for doing this, the government should be ashamed at moving forward on this basis."
Buy said the trial would allow the companies to provide evidence not brought forward at a preliminary hearing that will prove the allegations are false.
Federal Crown lawyer Denis Pilon said it's a complicated, novel case, and said it's not expected to go to trial until late next year.
The Competition Bureau investigation focused on 10 contracts, eight of which were worth a total of $62 million and related to IT services for the Canada Border Services Agency.
The remaining two contracts were for services provided to Public Works and Government Services Canada and Transport Canada.