On 9 May 2018, the Argentine Chamber of Deputies accepted the modifications made by the Chamber of Senators to the antitrust law reform bill, approving in this way the new Argentine Antitrust Law (Ley de Defensa y Fomento de la Competencia), which seeks to bring Argentina into line with the international experience in this field.
The main amendments to the Argentine Antitrust Law include:
- The creation of the National Antitrust Authority, as a decentralized and self-governing body within the national executive branch, which will be composed by the Antitrust Court, the Secretariat of Anticompetitive Behaviors and the Economic Concentrations Secretariat. These authorities will replace the current functions of the Antitrust Commission and of the Secretary of Commerce.
- Tougher sanctions, including the imposition of fines of up to 200 million Mobile Units (equivalent to 20 Argentine Pesos each), taking into account: (i) the amount of the benefit derived from the anti-competitive act - the sanction could be up to double -; and (ii) the turnover of the involved economic group.
- The establishment of a leniency program to facilitate the identification and punishment of cartels, which includes the exemption of sanction to the first member of a cartel that provides the necessary evidence to detect it and sanction it and the reduction of the fine between 20% and 50% for another member who provides additional proof.
- The significant increase of annual turnover amounts that determine the obligation to notify economic concentration operations.
- The establishment of ex ante merger control procedures (and not after closing of the transaction as is currently the case).
- The facilitation of private actions for damages against violators of the law, through a fast track procedure.
- The creation of a National Antitrust Chamber of Appeals within the National Chamber of Civil and Commercial Appeals for the filing of appeals against the decisions of the administrative body.