25 July 2018

Global corporate cartel report shows record levels of fines

Fines, enforcement actions and cartel cases have surged in the first six months of the year, as agencies study policy options.


Global cartel fines surged from $1.2 billion to $2.17 billion in the first half of 2018, far exceeded those issued by the same time in 2017. The largest share of fines was concentrated in Europe followed by the Americas, according to a Morgan Lewis mid-year 2018 cartel report.

Record fines

Among the fines were record-setting penalties imposed by Australia, Singapore, and Egypt. The tree countries imposed their largest cartel fines to date in 2018. Egypt for 5.58 billion Egyptian pounds ($316.2 million) against four pharmaceutical companies. Australia for $46 million Australian ($34.6 million) against a wire harnesses manufacturer. Singapore for $19.6 million Singapore ($14.7 million) against five capacitor manufacturers. Unsurprisingly the European Commission is prominent in the report, which notes fines of 395 million euros ($486.5 million) European against five maritime car carriers, 254 million euros ($311.6 million) against eight producers of capacitors, 76 million euros ($93.6 million) against three spark plug companies, and, 75 million euros ($92.4 million) against three car part suppliers.


A key issue continuing to gain attention is the costs and burdens of leniency programmes, which remain a key part of the cartel enforcement framework and adopted by many countries, modeled on successful programmes in the US and by European Commission. A new area of enforcement concerns no-poaching agreements and wage-fixing agreements. This conduct is subject to criminal and civil enforcement in the US and is also the focus of the Hong Kong Competition Commission and the Japan Fair Trade Commission. The report also highlights the role of algorithms in antitrust enforcement, an issue discussed and studied by enforcers around the world and the subject of continuing debate, study, and hearings in the foreseeable future by a number of enforcers. Read the full report here.

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