Canada's Competition Bureau has charged Nestlé, Mars, and a group of independent wholesalers with conspiracy to commit price-fixing of chocolate bars in the country. From the looks of the government's statement, this thing went wider and deeper than a cavity in a molar. We're talking Snickers, Almond Joy, Kit Kats, Aero, M&M;'s, 3 Musketeers, Mounds, and who knows what else. Whatever happened, the Canadian people paid some kind of terrible price, literally, and AFP reports the three people who have been charged for this include a former Nestlé Canada president, the company's former confectionery president, and the head of the distributing company. Hershey Canada also pleaded guilty for its role in the cartel of candy-makers who "conspired, agreed or arranged to fix prices of chocolate products." In exchange for testimony, however, it will reportedly get leniency when this thing goes to trial this month.
Specifics of the alleged shady dealings are currently unclear, but we're going to read between the lines of the Canadian government's press release and guess that lots of shifty meetings with executives brandishing cases of dark-chocolate Mars bars took place in old warehouse buildings along the piers in Halifax, where some armed henchmen stood guard outside and others continuously rummaged through enormous bags of Skittles at well-chosen sentry points in order to create enough white noise to thwart police wiretapping efforts. In any event, we'll find out more when it's all described in detail at Hershey Canada's upcoming trial, which starts June 21.
If the three executives are convicted of violating the country's Competition Act, they may be fined up to $10 million and/or be sentenced to five years' jail time. Representatives of ITWAL and Mars released statements in which they pledged to "vigorously defend" themselves in court. Nestlé did the same, but in general the multinational food manufacturer seems to be having a dismal year with its chocolate bars: In March, a Chinese agency claimed 4,000 pounds contained too much sorbitol, so authorities had the the entire shipment destroyed.
Nestle, Mars accused of conspiracy to fix prices of leading chocolate bars in Canada [AFP/ABC]
Charges Laid in a Price-fixing Cartel in the Chocolate Industry [Competition Bureau of Canada]
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