Confectionary Companies Face Time Behind (Candy)Bars

Conceivable convictions coming for Canadian candy cartel

By John Brannen, Staff Writer

According to the Competition Bureau, three candy conglomerates have broken the rules and fixed prices in Canada.

Mars Canada, Nestlé Canada and retail and foodservice distributor ITWAL are facing criminal charges, a fine of up to $10 million, and/or imprisonment for a term of up to five years.

The individuals charged are former Nestlé Canada president Robert Leonidas; Sandra Martinez, former president of confectionery for Nestlé Canada; and David Glenn Stevens, president and chief executive of ITWAL.

“We are fully committed to pursuing those who engage in egregious anti-competitive behaviour that harms Canadian consumers,” said John Pecman, Interim Commissioner of Competition. “Price-fixing is a serious criminal offence and today’s charges demonstrate the Competition Bureau’s resolve to stop cartel activity in Canada.”


Courtesy of osde8info

The alleged price-fixing involved chocolate bars sold across Canada from 2002 to 2008, he said, including Kit Kat, Coffee Crisp, Aero, Twix, Snickers, Bounty and M&Ms.

The Competition Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, attempts to ensure Canadian businesses and consumers engage in a competitive and innovative marketplace. Through its immunity program, the first party to disclose an offence or evidence not yet detected by the bureau can receive leniency from the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.

[pullquote]The first party to disclose an offence or evidence not yet detected by the bureau can receive leniency[/pullquote]

Hershey Canada blew the whistle on the other companies involved and cooperated with the Bureau’s investigation. The Bureau has since recommended that they receive lenient treatment in exchange for a guilty plea.

“Hershey Canada regrets its involvement in this incident as the communications were not in keeping with The Hershey Company’s principles, global business practices and high ethical standards,” noted a statement from Hershey.

The other candy companies aren’t going down without a food fight.

While ITWAL has been mum on the lawsuit, Nestlé Canada and Mars Canada said in separate statements that they would “vigorously defend” themselves against the charges.

The details of this tasty conspiracy are expected to be revealed when Hershey pleads guilty on June 21, 2013.

John Brannen is currently a reporter/photographer at The News in New Glasgow, N.S. John earned a B.A. in International Relations from Mount Allison University in May 2012. He blogged for Postmedia Network while traveling in Belarus and Ukraine last fall. A Masters in Eastern European studies is in his future. John’s articles from The News: http://www.ngnews.ca/Author-John-Brannen/6463/91/ John’s LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-brannen/50/b76/b84

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