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Global cartel fine totals fall, as the U.S. breaks records

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14 January 2016

Surging fines in the United States were countered by a marked decline in cartel fines globally this year, most notably, in the European Union and Brazil. 

An increase in cartel enforcement activity is expected in 2016 in the wake of the number of new investigations begun by authorities.   

Developing trends 

Auto parts and financial services penalties dominated global enforcement fine totals in 2015. And while financial services will remain a focus for enforcers in 2016, several new antitrust investigations suggest a shift in activity toward the digital, telecom, energy, and consumer products sectors.    

Global enforcers continued the mantra for increased accountability for individual executives. The United States issued serious warnings that the extradition of foreign national defendants will remain a top priority, while jurisdictions like the United Kingdom, South Korea, and Japan, in both word and action, emphasized the importance of individual prosecutions to their enforcement agendas.  

The debate as to whether and how to credit compliance programs also prominently featured in 2015 and promises to remain an issue enforcers will wrestle with throughout 2016. The United States took significant strides on this issue in 2015, crediting compliance for the first time in connection with an antitrust prosecution and hiring a new compliance program expert. 

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Global cartel fine totals fall, as the U.S. breaks records

 

What to watch for:  

  • Increased scrutiny on digital markets, which have captured the attention of several antitrust enforcers globally.

  • Financial services and consumer products (food stuffs and electronic parts) sectors driving penalties in 2016.

  • An increase in the targeting and prosecution of executives in cartel investigations. 

To discuss any points raised in this report please contact one of our Antitrust and Competition team, or your usual Allen & Overy contact.  

Allen & Overy's Antitrust and Competition team comprises over 100 specialists located across Asia, Australia, Europe and North America. We advise corporate clients and financial institutions on their global antitrust policies, litigation and regulatory strategies and have acted on some of the most high-profile and complex cases in recent years. 

Read our previous reports on global cartel enforcement.