2016-09-26

Rescinding of various contracts awarded by boroughs to rent tow trucks with operators during snow removal operations and related recommendations, decision filed on September 26, 2016

Summary

Three contractors, Remorquage Taz Inc., Remorquage Mobile and Auto Cam 2000, entered in an arrangement regarding intention to bid, price and number of tow trucks to enter in their bids. They divided up certain sectors and agreed to “respect” the sectors assigned to others. They admitted that they had communicated with each other and with other competitors, exchanging information and trying to find out what their intentions were with respect to certain calls for tenders. Their contracts have been rescinded. It was recommended that they be prohibited from participating in all calls for tenders, subcontracts and contracts by mutual agreement with the City for a period of five (5) years.

SUMMARY

The Office of Inspector General conducted an investigation of several contracts regarding the rental of tow trucks with operators awarded to private contractors for the towing of vehicles during snow removal operations performed by the boroughs.

The investigation revealed that three (3) contractors used, over the past few years, different schemes of a collusive nature regarding several call for tenders. These contractors are: Jean-Marc Lelièvre, president of Remorquage Taz inc. (9147-1953 Québec inc.), Steve Lenfesty, president of Remorquage Mobile (9273-5893 Québec inc.) and Réal Tourigny, president of Auto Cam 2000 (9096-1681 Québec inc.).

The investigation shows that these contractors submitted bids that were determined by collusion and that they made arrangement with competitors regarding the decision to submit a bid or not, at what price they should bid at, and the number of tow trucks they should include in their bids. Sometimes, these contractors divided the contracts put out to tender in a particular borough and committed themselves to not submit a bid in certain sectors that they considered belonging to others. This was done with the objective of ensuring that they won some contracts. As well, the investigation allowed the Inspector General to observe that these contractors communicated with each other and other competitors with the goal of exchanging information and to be informed of their intentions regarding certain calls for tenders.

The schemes described were used, in particular, by these three (3) contractors during the course of the following calls for tenders: 15-14685 (Plateau-Mont-Royal borough and Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles borough), 15-14616 (Verdun borough), 14-13814 (Verdun borough), 13-13147 (Verdun borough), 15-14538 (Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension borough) and 14-14050 (Ville-Marie borough).

The evidence collected by the Inspector General is comprised of clear and unequivocal admissions by Jean-Marc Lelièvre, Steve Lenfesty and Réal Tourigny, and was corroborated by the testimony of other contractors and by the analysis of the contractual data.

The cumulative criteria found in section 57.1.10 of Montréal’s City Charter have been met. The bids submitted by Remorquage Taz inc., Remorquage Mobile and Auto Cam 2000 contain false statements by the signatory and violate the call for tenders documents, more precisely, with respect to provisions of Montréal’s Contract Management Policy relating to measures seeking to combat collusion.

In the opinion of the Inspector General, these facts are serious and justify the rescinding of the contracts awarded following a tendering process tainted by collusion and fraudulent tactics, in order to prevent companies that practice these kinds of tactics from executing contracts. In effect, these schemes deprive the City and the boroughs of the possibility of obtaining the best service at the best price, which constitutes an obstacle to the principle of free competition and circumvents the call for tenders process which should take place.

However, certain contracts targeted by the investigation were executed in their totality and new calls for tenders are to be launched in the coming weeks for the next winter season. The Inspector General, as well as rescinding the contracts still being executed at the time of this decision, recommends to the City that it exclude Remorquage Taz inc. (9147-1953 Québec inc.), Remorquage Mobile (9273-5893 Québec inc.), Auto Cam 2000 (9096-1681 Québec inc.), Jean-Marc Lelièvre, Steve Lenfesty, Réal Tourigny, as well as any person associated with these bidders, from all calls for tenders, from all subcontracts, and from the possibility of signing contracts by mutual agreement with the City for a period of five (5) years, beginning on the date of this decision, in accordance with the provisions of the new version of Montréal’s Contract Management Policy, adopted by Montréal’s City Council and Montréal’s Agglomeration Council, respectively on August 23rd and August 25th, 2016.

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Rescinding of various contracts awarded by boroughs to rent tow trucks with operators during snow removal operations and related recommendations, decision filed on September 26, 2016