Charges of government bid-rigging laid against several Ottawa-based firms will head to a full trial, according to a preliminary hearing ruling released Wednesday.
The nearly three-year-old case encompasses allegations dating back to 2005 and involving several local firms, including TPG Technology Consulting Ltd.
"We will be reviewing the ruling in detail with a view to filing an appeal if appropriate," stated Donald Powell, president of TPG.
Nortak Software and Tipacimowin Technology Inc., who were initially accused in 2009, were discharged in the ruling.
The Competition Bureau laid criminal charges against TPG, six other companies and 14 individuals within those firms - including Mr. Powell - in February 2009. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
The charges allege the companies engaged in bid-rigging on 10 IT government contracts in 2005, collectively worth $67 million. The trial date was not made immediately available on Wednesday.
"The evidence indicates that the bidders' objective was to collectively win and divide the contracts awarded, while blocking competitors who were not part of the conspiracy," read a Competition Bureau release from February 2009.
"As a result of the agreement, the bidders were allegedly able to maximize the rates at which services were to be provided to the various departments."
The bulk of the work, eight contracts, related to $62 million worth of IT services for the Canada Border Services Agency. In addition, a contract for IT services for Transport Canada ($4 million) and another for Public Works ($1 million) came under scrutiny, according to Competition Bureau documents.
Transport Canada managed its own contracting process with Public Works managing the other nine, the bureau stated in 2009.
TPG filed a $125-million lawsuit against the Competition Bureau in November 2010. The suit accuses the agency of defamation when it charged TPG and its president of bid-rigging in 2009.
Separately, the company launched a $250-million lawsuit against the government in 2008 in relation to a multi-year, $427-million contract TPG bid for in 2007.
The suit alleges Public Works deliberately altered its technical evaluation to favour a bid in a contract submitted by a competing firm, Montreal-based CGI Group. CGI was never accused of any wrongdoing.
The full list of companies listed in the 2009 charges were:
- Brainhunter Inc.
- The Devon Group Ltd.;
- Donna Cona Inc.;
- Nortak Software Ltd.;
- Spearhead Management Canada Ltd.;
- TPG Technology Consulting Ltd.
- Tipacimowin Technology Inc.