Montreal, Quebec – Petroleum retailer Ultramar has announced that it will not challenge a charge by the Competition Bureau against the company and one of two employees who, according to the conclusions of the investigation, had communications with employees of other petroleum retailers to set the price of gasoline at the pump in the Victoriaville and Thetford-Mines regions of Quebec.

Ultramar also announced it will comply with directives from the 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 contract and requires compliance with the Competition Act’s provisions.

Ultramar also emphasized that the investigation demonstrated that no members of its management were involved in or aware of the matter, and that the incident took place in a short period of time, between March 3 and June 23, 2005, in a limited area of Quebec. The Competition Bureau said it believes the employees were not key players in the agreements and did not participate in any increase setting or timing, and did not personally profit financially.

“This is obviously a regrettable situation that we deplore,” said Christian Houle, vice-president, Motorist Sales Network. “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.”

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