INTERNATIONAL CARTEL ENFORCEMENT
The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice ("Division") has
employed a strategy of concentrating its enforcement resources on international
cartels that victimize American businesses and consumers. This enforcement
emphasis has led to remarkable success in terms of cracking international cartels,
securing the convictions of major conspirators, and obtaining record-breaking fines.
- Grand Jury Investigations. Currently, there are roughly 30 sitting
grand juries investigating suspected international cartel activity.
International cartel investigations account for approximately one-third
of the Division's criminal investigations.
- Geographic Scope. The subjects and targets of the Division's
international investigations are located on 5 continents and in over 20
different countries. However, the geographic scope of the criminal
activity is even broader than these numbers reflect. Our investigations
have uncovered meetings of international cartels in 107 cities in 35
countries, including most of the Far East and nearly every country in
Western Europe. (See World Map.)
- Numerous Sectors of Economy Affected. The Division has
prosecuted international cartels operating in a number of sectors
including vitamins, food and feed additives, food preservatives,
chemicals, graphite electrodes (used in steel making), fine arts, and
marine construction and marine transportation services.
- Volume Of Affected Commerce. In some matters, the volume of
commerce affected by the suspected conspiracy is well over $1 billion
per year; and in over half of the investigations, the volume of commerce
affected is well over $100 million over the term of the conspiracy.
- Estimated Harm. Since the beginning of FY 1997, the Division has
prosecuted international cartels affecting well over $10 billion in U.S.
commerce. It is clear that the cartel activity in these cases has cost
U.S. businesses and consumers many hundreds of millions of dollars
annually. For example:
- Lysine - Prices increased by 70% in the first 6 months; doubled
over course of conspiracy; defendants agreed to pay U.S.
customers more than $45 million in damages.
- Citric Acid - Prices increased by over 30% during duration of
- Graphite Electrodes - Prices increased by over 60% during
duration of conspiracy;
- Vitamins - Defendants agreed to pay U.S. customers more than
$1 billion in damages.
- Percentage Of Foreign Defendants. Since the beginning of
FY 1998, roughly 50 percent of corporate defendants in criminal cases
brought by the Division were foreign-based. In FY 2001, the
percentage of foreign-based firms charged by the Division rose to nearly
70 percent. Moreover, last year, one-third of the individual defendants
in our cases were foreign nationals.
- Conviction Of Foreign Executives. The Division has convicted
foreign executives from Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, England,
France, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Korea
for engaging in cartel activity, resulting in heavy fines and, in some
cases, imprisonment. Business executives from Canada, Germany,
Switzerland, and Sweden have served prison sentences in U.S. jails for
violating U.S. antitrust laws.
- Individual Jail Sentences Have Increased. Antitrust offenders are
being sent to jail with increasing frequency and for longer periods of
time. Nearly 50 years of imprisonment have been imposed on antitrust
offenders in the last three years, with the average prison term in FY
2001 rising to nearly 15 months. During that time period, over 20
defendants were sentenced to incarceration for one year or longer.
Of course, the majority of those sentences were imposed against U.S.
business executives. However, as noted above, recent cases have
resulted in the imprisonment of foreign executives for antitrust