- The Washington Times - Friday, June 7, 2013

Nestle, Mars and Hershey operations in Canada have been charged with conspiracy in a chocolate price-fixing investigation — which could mean significant fines and jail time for those charged, investigators said.

Nestle and Mars both vowed to “vigorously defend” against the charges. But Hershey Canada will plead guilty before the end of June “for its role in the conspiracy to fix the price of chocolate confectionery products in Canada,” according to Canada’s Competition Bureau.

The bureau said the charges could bring fines up to $10 million and imprisonment up to five years.

“Price-fixing is a serious criminal offense and today’s charges demonstrate the Competition Bureau’s resolve to stop cartel activity in Canada,” said the bureau’s interim commissioner John Pecman, according to NBC. He added that the bureau would aggressively pursue “those who engage in egregious anti-competitive behavior that harms Canadian consumers.”

The bureau recommended prosecutors give “lenient treatment” to Hershey in return for the company’s cooperation with investigators.

The investigation dates back to 2007, NBC reported.

Hershey Canada said in a statement that “it did not implement the planned price increase that was the subject of the 2007 communications.”

Nestle Canada said in a statement on its website that company executives “pride ourselves on operating with the highest ethical business standards.” Mars also issued a statement declaring intent to “vigorously defend itself against these allegations.”

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