Criminalization of Competition Law Enforcement
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Criminalization of Competition Law Enforcement

Economic and Legal Implications for the EU Member States

Edited by Katalin J. Cseres, Maarten Pieter Schinkel and Floris O.W. Vogelaar

This timely book brings together contributions from prominent scholars and practitioners to the ongoing debate on the criminalization of competition law enforcement. Recognizing that existing remedies and sanctions may be insufficient to deter breaches of competition law, several EU Member States have followed the US example and introduced pecuniary penalties for executives, professional disqualification orders, and even jail sentences. Addressing issues such as unsolved legal puzzles, standard of proof, leniency programs and internal cartel stability, this book is a marker for future policy debate.
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Chapter 12: Cartels: A United States Story, and a Research Program for the World

Eleanor M. Fox


Eleanor M. Fox 1 INTRODUCTION The United States was the first jurisdiction to have systematically enforced antitrust laws. Violation of the US Sherman Antitrust Act is a crime. Criminal enforcement is, however, essentially limited to cases against hard core cartels. The US story is a success story. Criminal enforcement is robust. Virtually every US antitrust chief through time has focused on cartels as a priority. The arsenal of tools against cartels is impressive: strong detection and enforcement techniques including wire taps, high fines and jail terms, a strong and clear leniency program to help identify cartels and destabilize them, and a system of private enforcement with treble damages. Each year, scores of grand juries are convened to investigate cartels; most of the ensuing cases are settled for large fines and sometimes prison terms. The notorious vitamins case was settled by the US government and the ring leader for $500 million, and vitamin company officials went to jail. Cartels are indeed harmful to consumers and the economy in general,1 and the US record against them would seem to reflect great success. There is one hitch: how many cartels go undeterred and undetected we will never know. We do know, however, that there is an observed increase in global or cross-border cartels, and we can deduce that either antitrust enforcers are simply detecting more cartels, or that, despite agencies’ increased vigilance, cartel activity is increasing.2 Thus, success is relative. We can do only the best we can, chipping away...

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