Yesterday I had the good fortune to attend the 8th Annual Georgetown University Law Center Global Antitrust Enforcement Symposium. I was invited to attend by Bates White, a leading economic consulting firm. Bates White is a sponsor of the program. The agenda covered all areas of antitrust enforcement including merger enforcement, abuse of dominance and IP and high-tech issues. But in keeping with the theme of this blog, I’d like to comment on the star of the program—Cartel Enforcement—”the supreme evil of antitrust.”
Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division was the keynote speaker. Baer focused his remarks completely on cartel enforcement. A copy of his speech is available here.
Compliance was in the air. Both Baer, and another Antitrust Division leader, Brent Snyder, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Criminal Enforcement, emphasized the need for corporations to have strong and effective compliance programs. Baer pointed out that the average jail term for an individual convicted of price fixing or bid rigging is now at 25 months. And, courts have fined corporations as much as $1.4 billion in a single year. Baer emphasized, “effective compliance programs minimize the chance that companies will conspire to fix prices. And they maximize the chance for a company guilty of price fixing to find out about the conspiracy early enough to qualify for corporate leniency or otherwise cooperate with our investigation.” [Read more…]