A little over a year after its creation the Procurement Collusion Strike Force has announced its first public indictments.  The Strike Force was created to focus on rooting out collusion and related schemes aimed at impeding competition in public contracting.  As DOJ made clear when the Strike Force was created, DOJ views price-fixing in government contracting as a particularly harmful since it directly harms U.S. taxpayers.  The Strike Force includes prosecutors from both the DOJ Antitrust Division and United States Attorney’s offices, the FBI, and Inspectors General from the Department of Defense, the U.S. Postal Service, and the General Services Administration.

Continue Reading US Procurement Collusion Strike Force Issues Its First Indictment

(This is a cross-post from Steptoe’s new Investigations and Enforcement Blog.)

The Department of Justice Antitrust Division’s investigation into price-fixing by generic drug companies continues to remain one of the Antitrust Division’s most active matters. This week the Antitrust Division announced that it had indicted Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. (Teva), the seventh company to reach a resolution with the Antitrust Division in this investigation. Teva is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.


Continue Reading Another Generic Drug Company Accepts a Criminal Indictment Alleging Collusion

On July 14, 2020, the European Commission adopted its 33rd cartel settlement decision: an unusual one involving a purchasing cartel, in the ethylene merchant market.  Four companies were found liable for having colluded for over 5 years to drive down the prices in monthly ethylene merchant bidding markets.  Westlake was the first to apply to the Commission and received immunity from fines (which would have been about Euro 190M). The other three were fined in aggregate Euro 260M.

What are the interesting features of this cartel decision?
Continue Reading An Unusual Purchasing Cartel: EU Fines Ethylene Purchasers

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division recently issued a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) to Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS), an oncology center in Florida. FCS admitted to allocating medical and radiation oncology treatments provided to cancer patients in Southwest Florida. In addition, FCS had to pay a $100 million monetary penalty,

At the beginning of April 2020, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) handed down a preliminary ruling in Case C-228/18, Gazdasági Versenyhivatal v Budapest Bank Nyrt. and others and thus clarifying and reinstating certain aspects of the “by object” assessment. As a reminder, it is a well-established EU competition law principle that if a restriction is considered to be anticompetitive by object, the competition authorities are not required to examine its effects. For example, price fixing, input restrictions, bid-rigging, collective agreements to boycott, resale price maintenance are considered to have negative effects, in particular, on the price, quantity, or quality of goods or services, that they can be regarded as falling within Article 101(1) of the Treaty on Functioning of the EU (TFEU)  without the need to demonstrate any actual or likely anti-competitive effects on the market.

Continue Reading The Court of Justice of the EU Gives a Preliminary Ruling Clarifying and Reinstating Certain Aspects of the “by Object” Assessment

It is important to remember that as businesses struggle in these times to cope with issues like distribution, sourcing ingredients, components and other resources, they may look to collaborate with rivals.   In fact, many businesses have been doing exactly that.  Collaboration between competitors can be perfectly benign and may no anti-competitive effects (for example, in setting standards, lobbying efforts).  However, competition rules do apply and coordination of prices, market sharing, cost allocation, coordinated output reductions or sharing competitive sensitive information, would be prohibited.  Some restrictions are regarded as ‘hard core’ and rarely worthy of exemption (price fixing, customer and market allocations and quantity restrictions).  Penalties for infringement could lead to significant fines and possible private damages litigation.

Continue Reading Collaboration Between Competitors in Times of Crisis