Bureau's investigation into aftermarket auto parts industry results in $1.5 million fine for price-fixing

Susan M. Hutton and Robert Mysicka -

On May 4, 2012 the Competition Bureau announced that Maxzone Auto Parts (Canada) pleaded guilty to price-fixing for its participation in an international cartel involving aftermarket replacement automotive lights.  Maxzone was fined C$1.5 million under subsection 45(2) of the Competition Act which provides for imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of C$25 million for the offence of conspiracy to fix prices between competitors.The products that were the subject matter of the conspiracy consisted primarily of headlights and tail lights purchased by auto parts supply companies in Canada for use as replacement parts in automobiles.

Maxzone admitted to implementing an agreement with its competitors that fixed the price of aftermarket automotive lights in Canada from January 2004 to September 2008. The products that were the subject matter of the conspiracy consisted primarily of headlights and tail lights purchased by auto parts supply companies in Canada for use as replacement parts in automobiles.

The Bureau’s investigation in this case benefited from cooperation under its Immunity and Leniency Programs. The Immunity Program allows for the first party to disclose to the Bureau the existence of an offence that has not yet been detected or to provide evidence leading to the filing of charges may receive immunity from prosecution from the Director of Public Prosecutions of Canada (DPP) as long as the party co-operates with the Bureau in its investigation. Under the Leniency Program, the Bureau may recommend to the DPP that cooperating persons who have breached the cartel provisions under the Competition Act, who are not eligible for a grant of immunity, nevertheless be considered for lenient treatment in sentencing.

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