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The Retail Gasoline Price-Fixing Cartel in Quebec


  • Marcel Boyer

    (TSE-R - Toulouse School of Economics - UT Capitole - Université Toulouse Capitole - UT - Université de Toulouse - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement)


Prosecution of the retail gasoline price-fixing cartel in Quebec was the culmination of the largest and one of the most successful criminal investigations in the history of the Competition Bureau of Canada. In June 2008, criminal charges were brought against a number of individuals and companies under Section 45 of the Competition Act. The last trial occurred in late 2019. Prior to the 2009 amendments of the Competition Act, the public prosecutor had to demonstrate that the cartel not only existed, but also had the effect of "unduly" lessening competition-an unsuccessful cartel was not a crime. In this article, I review the empirical challenges and discuss how they were addressed to determine that the cartel did successfully increase prices in the markets under investigation. While the formal charges covered the period from early 2004 to mid-2006, data on price variation indicated that the cartel began in early 2001. Based on a difference-in-differences approach, the best estimate of cartel damages ranges from $18.5M to $42.0M for the period 2001-2006, and from $6.7M to $20.9M for the period 2004-2006. In addition to fines imposed on individuals and companies, numerous individuals received conditional prison sentences.

Suggested Citation

  • Marcel Boyer, 2022. "The Retail Gasoline Price-Fixing Cartel in Quebec," Post-Print hal-03789032, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-03789032

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John Connor, 2005. "Collusion and price dispersion," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(6), pages 335-338.
    2. Robert Clark & Jean-François Houde, 2014. "The Effect of Explicit Communication on pricing: Evidence from the Collapse of a Gasoline Cartel," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(2), pages 191-228, June.
    3. Marcel Boyer & Rachidi Kotchoni, 2015. "How Much Do Cartel Overcharge?," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 47(2), pages 119-153, September.
    4. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, December.
    5. Zhongmin Wang, 2008. "Collusive Communication and Pricing Coordination in a Retail Gasoline Market," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 32(1), pages 35-52, February.
    6. Nikolaus Fink & Philipp Schmidt-Dengler & Konrad Stahl & Christine Zulehner, 2017. "Registered cartels in Austria: an overview," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 44(3), pages 385-422, December.
    7. Robert Clark & Jean-Fran?ois Houde, 2013. "Collusion with Asymmetric Retailers: Evidence from a Gasoline Price-Fixing Case," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 97-123, August.
    8. Marcel Boyer & Rachidi Kotchoni, 2015. "How Much Do Cartel Overcharge? (The "Working Paper" Version)," CIRANO Working Papers 2015s-37, CIRANO.
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