On April 4, 2014, the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it had successfully obtained the “first ever” extradition based on an antitrust charge. It involved the former executive of a marine hose manufacturer charged with price fixing and other antitrust violations for the sale of marine hose in the United States and other countries. The former executive, an Italian national who had been employed by a company headquartered in Italy, was arrested in Germany in June 2013. His extradition underscores the DOJ’s increasing efforts to enforce U.S. antitrust violations against foreign companies and officers, including those who live or work abroad.
This extradition is an important development because it was based solely on an antitrust charge. Previously, the Antitrust Division obtained the extradition of a British national, the former chief executive officer of Morgan Crucible Co., a company based in the United Kingdom. He was convicted for obstruction of justice relating to the investigation in U.S. federal court. Because of issues involving the United Kingdom extradition treaty, the UK extradition order precluded Norris' prosecution in the United States for the antitrust violations with which he was originally charged.
The extradition in the marine hose matter may signal a significant change -- foreign countries becoming more receptive to efforts by DOJ to extradite foreign nationals involved in international antitrust cartels. While the marine hose extradition does not involve a foreign country agreeing to extradite its own citizens for only antitrust charges, DOJ is working to achieve that result.
This extradition is another example of the DOJ's increased focus on antitrust criminal enforcement. Last year, the DOJ collected more than $1 billion in fines and filed 50 criminal cases in which 21 corporations and 34 individuals were charged.