Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division announced that criminal penalties from cartel prosecutions in fiscal year 2014 (ending September 30) reached $1.861 billion. This was, by far, the largest ever annual total for the Division. In addition, the Antitrust Division obtained jail terms for 21 individual defendants, with an average sentence of 26 months, the third-highest average ever. The DOJ’s full press release can be found here: http://www.justice.gov/atr/public/press_releases/2015/311240.htm
So, what’s ahead for 2015? Recent changes in leadership and organizational structure plus the influx of new talent should position the Antitrust Division the for a very active 2015. Having emerged from a significant overhaul spanning several years and including the closing of four field offices, the creation of new criminal sections, changes in leadership at the highest levels, and the lifting of an extended hiring freeze, this leaner remodeled division should be primed to continue its aggressive anti-cartel campaign in 2015.
Here are a few of our expectations:
- Auto parts prosecutions will continue, but they should wind down;
- California real estate foreclosure auction prosecutions will show no sign of letting up, and trials are likely;
- Capacitors investigation likely will lead to charges against major electronics companies;
- Ocean shipping investigation will continue with additional pleas and/or indictments; and,
- Generic pharmaceutical industry will continue to hold the Division’s interest.