OTTAWA — Newly released court documents related to an alleged industry-wide bread-price fixing case show the Competition Bureau believes at least seven companies, including Canada’s three major grocers, committed indictable offences under the Competition Act.
The previously sealed information to obtain documents explain the Competition Bureau requested search warrants to enter and search the premises and records of seven companies because it had reasonable grounds to believe they committed multiple offences.
The watchdog alleges bread wholesalers Canada Bread Company Ltd. and George Weston Ltd.’s senior officers directly communicated with one another and agreed to increase prices.
It claims the suppliers met with their retail customers — Loblaw Companies Ltd., Walmart Canada Corp., Sobeys Inc., Metro Inc. and Giant Tiger Stores Ltd. — to get their approval for the price hike.
In December, Loblaw and George Weston admitted they sparked the investigation when they approached the watchdog after becoming aware of an allegedly industry-wide arrangement to co-ordiante retail and wholesale prices of some packaged bread products from late 2001 to March 2015.
The two companies received immunity in exchange for their co-operation. The remaining five companies have previously said they’re co-operating with the investigation, and some have outright denied any wrongdoing.