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Global Cartel Enforcement 2015 Mid-Year Report


23 June 2015

Cartel fines: U.S. breaks records amidst slow global start

Global cartel fine totals appear low at the mid-year mark, but the scale of the investigations reportedly under review hint that 2015 may yet be another record-setting year for competition authorities.

Developing trends: 

  • Global cartel fine totals stand at USD3.17 billion so far in 2015, an amount that is substantially less than the USD5.11bn total assessed at this point last year. Brazil and the European Union are the furthest off pace in enforcement this year, accounting for USD3.36bn less in total fines imposed for the first six months of 2015 than in 2014. Investigations in Brazil into state-run oil company Petrobras and the European Commission’s ongoing probes into financial services and capacitor manufacturers will likely drive additional fine results this year. Only the United States and Indonesia report increases in their totals at the same point last year, while four major enforcement regimes have yet to report any cartel fines.
  • With nearly USD2.7bn in fines imposed, the United States has already amassed more in fines this year than the combined total of its record-breaking fines from fiscal years 2012 and 2013.
  • Global investigations, such as the auto parts and financial services matters, and many large domestic bid-rigging investigations, remain under active review and are likely to result in further enforcement.
  • Another developing trend for 2015 is an increased focus on individual accountability for executives caught in the crosshairs of cartel investigations:
  • The United States continues to actively prosecute individuals, with United States Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division officials voicing strong warnings that extradition of foreign national defendants will remain a top priority. This year the DOJ has already indicted and convicted a combined 56 individuals.
  • Other authorities are also emphasizing individual prosecutions, including the newly constituted Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) in the United Kingdom which commenced its first prosecution of an individual this month. The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is also prosecuting an individual in the LIBOR rate-rigging case.
  • The APAC enforcement regimes have likewise stressed holding individuals accountable, sentencing five executives in South Korea and two in Japan to prison terms in 2015.

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