The subject of corporate leniency as a tool for combating criminal conduct seems to be top of mind for federal prosecutors. In the last few months, the Deputy Attorney General, Lisa Monaco, and senior enforcers in the Criminal Division, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Lisa H. Miller, have announced and reinforced the Division’s commitment to its new Corporate Enforcement Policy, which rewards timely self-reporting and other forms of “extraordinary” cooperation in the form of declinations and deferred prosecution agreements.[i]
Procurement Collusion Strike Force
The Procurement Collusion Strike Force, formed by the Department of Justice in 2019, is ramping up enforcement pressures against government contractors. The Strike Force brings together the DOJ Antitrust Division criminal offices, state Attorneys General, and federal agencies such as the Department of Defense and Federal Trade Commission. The Strike Force is an effort to crack down on anticompetitive activities in public procurement, which the DOJ views as particularly susceptible to the costs of collusive activity. The Department was already devoting significant resources to public procurement crimes, and the Strike Force represents an intensified, all-hands approach to enforcement.
Continue Reading Government Contractors Facing Increased Antitrust Scrutiny
Congress recently took two steps towards incentivizing private participation in federal cartel enforcement: the permanent adoption of ACPERA, and enactment of the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act. While now companies may have permanent incentives to self-report cartel activity, and whistleblowing employees may be better protected from employer retaliation, no surge in individual cartel reporting should be expected absent direct whistleblower financial incentives, such as found in other federal enforcement regimes.
Continue Reading Congress Misses Opportunity to Bolster Flagging Cartel Enforcement through Whistleblowers
There is a tension at the heart of modern U.S. cartel enforcement. On one hand is the engine that has been driving most criminal and civil cartel enforcement since the mid-1990s — the Department of Justice’s corporate leniency or “amnesty” program. The modern leniency program offers a relatively simple bargain to the first intrepid cartelist who walks through DOJ’s door: complete criminal amnesty in exchange for complete cooperation. But, on the other hand, the simplicity of this bargain has historically been complicated by the significant countervailing likelihood of private “follow-on” lawsuits threatening some of the most severe penalties found anywhere in the U.S. legal system, including joint and several liability, treble damages, and the automatic recovery of attorneys’ fees and costs. By providing the government with the robust cooperation necessary to achieve criminal amnesty, a cartelist was also often ensuring private plaintiffs would have the evidence they needed to successfully obtain these civil penalties, which, at least for corporate defendants, can be more financially painful than anything the criminal process can provide. The result is that the cost-benefit analysis of invoking the DOJ’s amnesty program has not always been as straightforward as it appears or was likely intended.
Continue Reading Amnesty and Its Punishments: ACPERA and the Future of U.S. Antitrust Cartel Enforcement
Virtually all significant antitrust cases these days have an international component. Markets now are worldwide. Consequently, one of the most frequently litigated—and most important issues—is the extent of U.S. jurisdiction. Which sales are subject to trebling in a U.S. court? Which sales must be pursued elsewhere? Frequently, the key statute is the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act (FTAIA). The resulting litigation, unfortunately, has not resulted in clear rules or signposts. And, the cases are highly fact-specific. The facts matter.
Continue Reading Navigating Dangerous Shoals: The Murky but Critical Territorial Boundaries of U.S. Antitrust Jurisdiction
Over the last three decades, government antitrust enforcers and private plaintiffs in the United States have increasingly sought to apply U.S. antitrust laws to conduct by foreign businesses that is deemed to have effects on the U.S. economy. Many of these foreign businesses have been located in Asia: since the 1990s there have been waves of U.S. criminal prosecutions and civil cases alleging anticompetitive conspiracies between Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese sellers and manufacturers. For most of this time, however, companies in mainland China—despite being the largest exporters of goods to the United States, first in Asia and now in the entire world—have rarely been targeted for U.S. antitrust enforcement.
Continue Reading Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Vitamin C and the Future of U.S. Antitrust Enforcement Against Chinese Companies *
On November 1, 2018, the Northern District of California updated its Procedural Guidance for Class Action Settlements, requiring increased disclosures for settlement preliminary and final approval, and more transparency in post-distribution accounting. Failure to follow the Guidance may result in delay or denial of settlement approval. This article highlights the most significant updated rules affecting class action settlements in the Northern District.
Continue Reading N.D. Cal. Releases Comprehensive Procedural Guidance for Class Action Settlements