A federal grand jury in Denver, Colorado has indicted a Eunice, New Mexico-based construction company and two of its executives for rigging bids for natural gas pipeline projects in Colorado. The indictment, filed by the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, charges that B&H Maintenance & Construction, Inc. (B&H) and its executives violated Section One of the Sherman Act by conspiring with another company to submit noncompetitive bids to BP America Products Company. According to the indictment, the conspiracy operated between June 2005 and December 2005, and affected bidding on the construction of pipelines to transport natural gas from wells in the Upper San Juan River Basin in Colorado. B&H’s vice president is also charged with attempting to persuade a co-conspirator to lie to federal investigators and the grand jury during the investigation of the antitrust violations.
B&H’s indictment is the second to arise from the DOJ’s ongoing investigation of bid rigging on natural gas pipeline project in the San Juan River Basin. In July 2006, Flint Energy Services, Inc. and one of its executives pled guilty to similar charges, resulting in a US$150,000 fine imposed against the company. The executive in that case has not yet been sentenced.
If convicted, B&H faces a maximum fine under the Sherman Act of US$100 million, while each executive faces a fine of up to US$1 million and up to 10 years in prison. The maximum statutory fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the anticompetitive conduct or twice the loss incurred. For witness tampering, B&H’s vice president faces an additional fine of up to US$250,000 and up to 10 years in prison.