09/28/2012 03:51 EDT | Updated 09/28/2012 03:52 EDT

Irving Oil Price-Fixing Allegations: Criminal Charges Laid By Competition Bureau Against Energy Giant

Flickr: Avard Woolaver

Maritime energy giant Irving Oil is facing charges related to gas price fixing in Quebec, Canada’s Competition Bureau announced Friday.

Serge Parent, Irving Oil’s Quebec manager, has also been charged, the bureau said in a statement.

The bureau says the charges relate to allegations of price-fixing in three Quebec towns: Sherbrooke, Thetford Mines and Victoriaville.

The charges come weeks after a Quebec court certified a class-action lawsuit against a number of gas retailers, including Irving, that seeks $100 million in damages over price-fixing in Quebec.

That suit involves many of the same Quebec towns.

The Competition Bureau says 39 people and 15 companies have already been charged in the Quebec gas price fixing case. Six people have pleaded guilty, garnering 54 months of jail time between them, and companies have paid a total of $3 million in fines.

Allegations of gas price-fixing are not limited to Quebec. Canadian Tire and Pioneer Gas pleaded guilty in March to price-fxing charges involving gas stations in Kingston and Brockville, Ontario.

A class action lawsuit launched this spring in Ontario alleges Canadian Tire, Mr. Gas and Pioneer colluded to fix gas prices in Kingston and Brockville.

This is not the first piece of bad news for Irving Oil this week. One of its employees was injured earlier this week when an explosion rocked the oil company's refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick.

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