Federal agency to probe ICBC car auctions
A federal agency that regulates competition is looking into allegations of bid-rigging at car auctions at the Insurance Corporation of B.C.
The probe by the Competition Bureau would be the fifth investigation into the automobile repair scam that saw nearly 100 vehicles sold at ICBC without proper documentation -- many of them to ICBC's own employees.
"I received your six e-mail messages this month regarding ICBC's vehicle auctions," wrote Richard Robicheau, a competition law officer, in an e-mail response to a complaint from staff at the United Auto Trades Association of B.C.
"An officer from the Criminal Matters Branch will contact you about this complaint."
UATABC president George Hancock wouldn't say which of his members made the complaint.
But Hancock said that his members -- small and medium-sized glass and auto body shops -- have complained for years about rigged auctions and other questionable practices.
"It's not in the best interests of the public what's happening here," Hancock told CTV News.
The newest complaint was made on April 18, after the media reported that ICBC was to be the subject of a criminal investigation by the RCMP's commercial crime section.
ICBC is also being probed by B.C.'s auditor-general, an independent audit by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and is facing an internal investigation.
The scheme saw 98 'written-off vehicles' repaired at ICBC's shop sold without proper documentation.
Competition Bureau spokeswoman Marilynne Nahum said the agency investigates conspiracies that lessen competition, bid-rigging, price discrimination, and predatory pricing.
But she couldn't comment on the specific investigation. "The competition act requires that we conduct our investigations in private," she said.
Anyone found guilty of bid-rigging will have to pay a fine or is liable to imprisonment of a term not exceeding five years.
ICBC has not been contacted by anyone at the Competition Bureau, a spokesman said.