MONTREAL, June 12 /CNW Telbec/ - Ultramar announced today that it will
not challenge a charge against the Company and one of two employees who,
according to conclusions of a Competition Bureau investigation, had
communications with employees of other companies engaged in the retail sale of
petroleum products to set the price of gasoline at the pump in the
Victoriaville and Thetford-Mines regions.
Ultramar also announced it will comply with directives from the
Competition Bureau and will take the necessary steps to ensure strict respect
of its Code of business conduct and Ethics which formally prohibits this kind
of contact and requires compliance with the Competition Act's provisions.
Ultramar also emphasized that the Competition Bureau's investigation
demonstrated that no members of its management were involved in this matter or
were aware of the facts and actions denounced. Furthermore, it seems that the
facts raised took place over a short period of time, between March 3 and
June 23, 2005, in a limited area of Quebec, that is in the Victoriaville and
The Competition Bureau's investigation clearly demonstrates that the two
Ultramar representatives involved were never the initiators or coordinators of
the price increase agreements. They were not key players in these agreements
and did not participate in any increase setting or timing. Furthermore, we
have every indication to believe that these employees did not personally
profit financially, in any way, from the actions denounced by the Competition
Mr. Christian Houle, Vice President, Motorist Sales Network, said: "This
is obviously a regrettable situation that we deplore. We believe these two
employees did not intend to cause harm but rather acted out of carelessness
without taking into consideration established rules and consequences of their
actions. Although Ultramar could have raised a certain number of legal
arguments to challenge the accusations, it felt that it would be in the best
interests of all to plead guilty to avoid a long and costly trial. That's why
we decided not to challenge the Competition Bureau's charges, even though
these events happened without our knowledge.
We also want to assure our customers, the public and authorities
concerned that we will be reinforcing our employee training and awareness
methods requiring compliance with the law in order to prevent such a situation
from happening again."
Mr. Houle added: "Ethics is one of Ultramar's fundamental values and is
at the core of its priorities and business practices, just as we consider it
essential to comply with all applicable laws and regulations governing our
company and its operations. Our employees are aware of our very strict Code of
ethics and how important it is to us. We do not tolerate any deviation in this
regard or failure to comply with the law."
As soon as Ultramar was informed, in June 2006, that the Competition
Bureau was conducting an investigation into suspected gasoline price setting
practices in certain areas of Central Quebec, it fully cooperated with
investigators who came to our offices to examine price management operations
in its service station network. Ultramar also initiated its own investigation
and, based on preliminary information available at the time, immediately took
appropriate action and transferred to other duties the two employees suspected
under the investigation. Given the results of the investigation, the
employment relationship with these employees was terminated.
For further information:
For further information: Louis Forget, Vice President, Public and
Government Affairs, (514) 499-6442, (418) 835-8001, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Source: Ultramar Ltd.