Canada prosecutors stay price fixing charges against Nestle

Wed Nov 18, 2015 8:39am EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian prosecutors have stayed proceedings against the local arm of Nestle SA in a multi-year investigation into alleged price‑fixing of chocolate products, the country's competition watchdog said on Wednesday.

They also stayed charges against the Canada unit's former chief executive, Robert Leonidas.

"Today's decision marks the end of the chocolate price‑fixing matter," the Competition Bureau said in a statement. It did not give a reason for the stay.

Canada had charged Nestle and others in 2013 with colluding to fix the price of chocolate.

At the time, the Competition Bureau recommended lenient treatment for the Canadian arm of Hershey Co, which cooperated with the investigation and reached a deal to plead guilty to a single count of price fixing. Nestle said at they time they intended to "vigorously defend" themselves against the allegations.

The Competition Bureau spent years probing the allegations of price fixing in a case that also resulted in a class-action suit. Hershey, Mars Inc and Nestle all agreed to settlements as part of that suit.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)