Verdict released on alleged Ottawa bid-riggers

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Nine defendants involved in a high-profile bid-rigging scandal have been found innocent on all 60 charges after their seven-month trial finally came to a close. Now, one man involved is calling for legal changes to be made to the Competition Act.

Individuals Marina Durward, Sue Laycock, Phil McDonald, Don Powell, Tom Townsend and Ron Walker were all found not guilty – as were organizations Devon Group, Spearhead Management and TPG Technology.

However, the companies — which supply computer services technicians under contract — are liable for fines and could be barred from doing business with the federal government.

TPG Technology owner Don Powell admitted he was gratified that the justice system had worked but said changed needed to be made to the Competition Act.

“The big thing to me is, the Competition Act Section 47 should be rewritten to be more clear, to make it more sensible, to make sure people get notice that they might be breaking the law because we had no idea that we possibly could be doing that,” he said.

The resounding verdict, which came as an unexpected shock to the Crown, has set a precedent for a second trial involving the same facts but different defendants. Under the Competition Act, those accused of rigging bids have the option of judge or jury.

The second trial is could commence as early as next month and is expected to last only a matter of weeks – the defendants will include Barry Dowdall, David Gelineau, Perry Henningsen, Donna Cona Inc. and Brainhunter.

Six years ago, the Crown charged more than 20 defendants in connection with 10 procurements dating from 2005 at Canada Border Services Agency, Transport Canada and Public Works. Charges against a number of defendants were dropped due to lack of evidence, while two individuals pleaded guilty in exchange for helping the Crown with its investigation.
 

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